A Massachusetts school district is reportedly encouraging its students and staff to report on one another for “incidents of bias” and “microaggressions” — including “telling rude jokes,” referring to the “China virus” and scheduling exams on “cultural holidays.”
Documents from Wellesley public schools obtained by Parents Defending Education, a grassroots group that seeks to reclaim schools from “activists promoting harmful agendas,” include slides from a staff “equity protocols” training course, the National Review reports.
The district’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion defines a “bias incident” as any “conduct, speech or expression that has an impact but may not involve criminal action, but demonstrates conscious or unconscious bias” against any federally protected identity group.
Examples listed are “race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, religion, or disability.”
Students are encouraged to report incidents of discrimination “or any concerning pattern of biased behavior” to any staffer or a trusted adult.
“Reports of any concerning behavior may be made anonymously,” the policy states, though it adds that “anonymous reports are more difficult to investigate and respond to.”
The training slides teach that “telling rude jokes that mock a protected group in person or through any electronic device” is an example of a “bias-based incident” — as are using slurs, imitating someone with a disability, or imitating a person’s cultural norm or language.
The slides cite multiple examples of possible equity violations, including: “Henry is a Math department head. At the school’s holiday party, he had fun telling jokes about Protestants, Catholics, Jews, and Muslims to other staff.”
Another example is: “Adam is in the high school cafeteria and jokingly turns to a friend and says, ‘I can say ‘n-word’ because my friend Bernice gave me a pass.’”
Examples of “microaggressions” include saying, “My principal is so crazy!,” asking, “Where are you actually from?” or saying, “Ohhh, you got the ‘China Virus’?!?!”
Telling a colleague, “You’re so articulate” and saying, “The way you’ve overcome your disability is so inspiring” also are listed as examples of “microaggressions.”
Students who violate the policy face potential discipline, including “detention, suspension, or other restorative responses that require them to acknowledge their responsibility and minimize its impact.”
But according to the staff’s training slides, one of the goals is to “Focus on changing behavior rather than punishing (an) offender.”
The district aims to complete most probes within 10 days, according to the policy, which says school leaders are expected to notify police and the Anti-Defamation League if a hate crime has been committed.
Courts have found that such policies can have a chilling effect on speech, according to the National Review.
A decision last year from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals said a similar reporting policy at the University of Texas “represents the clenched fist in the velvet glove of student speech regulation,” the news outlet reported.
Nicole Neily, president and founder of Parents Defending Education, said anti-bias policies in schools are being weaponized against constitutionally protected discussion on potentially controversial topics, according to the Epoch Times.
“Students absorb more in school than simply lesson plans; they’re also learning how to interact with individuals who come from different backgrounds and viewpoints,” Neily wrote in an op-ed.
“Bias response teams send a clear message not only that certain opinions are wrong but that the correct coping method, when confronted with such a situation, is to ‘go tell the grownups,’” she added.
The National Review said its efforts to reach Charmie Curry, the director of diversity, equity and inclusion for Wellesley public schools, were unsuccessful.