Our community has been affected by national events including the horrific event in Pittsburgh. Three hate crimes have splashed across the national news in the last week alone. We can feel bombarded by these profoundly disturbing events, which affect all of us, no matter our age.
As a school community, we are an extension of what happens in the wider world. We hear the sadness in conversations around us and we see the hurtful actions of our students who are acting out for whatever reason. When our students choose violence to address their issues instead of seeking help from adults, we must all take responsibility for guiding our students to make safer choices.
Every single adult who works for LOSD can provide support for our students. We are not only committed to creating safe, inclusive schools but school communities that value each and every student. LOSD has the resources to help every student develop into the fullest expression of a contributing citizen.
Bullying, discrimination, and harassment are all a result of students feeling less than. We hurt others when we don’t feel good about ourselves. It is learned from the media and from other people who do not value themselves. To counter this, we as a school community must lift up and support each other in order to give each of us a chance to grow into positive community members. Whether the intentional acts of violence or unintentional discriminatory behaviors that have been seen recently in two of our schools, each action has damaged relationships and hurt us all.
In the most profound sense, we must come back to a common understanding of what it means to be in community. We are responsible to and for each other. We are interconnected. When students are in pain, all of us feel it. It can come out in hurtful ways, but we have the resources, knowledge, and ability to wrap around students who need help.
I ask that you help us do this work. Schools cannot do this alone. We need parents and community members to help students see there are other ways to resolve disputes and that there is no need to bully each other. As a District, we are in the process of training all of our staff in ways to interrupt discriminatory behavior such as using Speak Up from Teaching Tolerance and the elementary PBIS Toolkit. Parents and students can anonymously report incidents through SafeOregon or to their building leaders.
Each school has a diversity, equity, and inclusion team that can help guide us in building healthy relationships while offering compassion to people with opposing viewpoints. Every adult should be a resource for students. As adults, we need to help students move from being bystanders to upstanders. We are not there yet, but if we have the courage to have difficult conversations about the complexities of race, ethnicity, gender identification, sexual orientation, physical and mental ability, and cultural and faith-based practices we will be stronger for each other in building the community we all want. We can hold each other accountable for creating the safe and nurturing place we all envision.