Protecting Civil Rights at GFMS


December 10, 2018

Dear GFMS Families, Below please read my remarks at today's GFMS Morning Meeting. We encourage you to discuss these with your child and to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

Sincerely, Principal Annie Leonard and the GFMS Staff

Good morning GFMS students and staff. I’ve talked to you before about the word "indivisible" in the pledge we say at every morning meeting, and about this “Hate Has No Home Here” sign and what it means about everybody in our school being free to be themselves, and not experience teasing or harassing words or actions. Your teachers and I have talked to you about the GFMS code of conduct and what it says about a safe positive learning environment and everyone’s right to be educated free of harassment and discrimination. You chose “Honor Differences” as your Social Contract, showing that many of you are very aware of how important it is for our school to be safe and welcoming. I asked you to choose a Social Contract that was something we most needed to help us be the school we wanted to be - and I think you chose well, because, sadly, I find myself this morning needing to talk to you again about the ongoing,serious problem we have with some students making comments that are racist, or homophobic, or otherwise discriminatory. These comments are hateful, they are civil rights violations, and they are not okay in our school, whether “joking around” or serious. They are harmful, to the individuals who are targeted on the basis of who they are, and they are harmful to our entire community. I am here to say, again, that they will NOT be tolerated. It is my expectation that harassing words or actions, whether associated with race, religion, class, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability, will be addressed directly and immediately by any staff member who hears or sees them. Students, you should expect to hear your teachers say, loud and clear, “we don’t talk like that here,” or “that is a civil rights violation”. As we did last school year, over the coming weeks we will hold grade-level meetings to go into more depth on our school’s civil rights and anti-bullying policies. Until then, if you have a question or need to report something, you can talk to any staff member and know that you will find someone who, like you, wants to stop racism and other forms of discrimination, right now.