Education International
Education International

USA: Education unions and civil society unite to Stop the Hate

published 23 November 2016 updated 28 November 2016

Educators and citizens from all over the USA have signed the Stop the Hate petition, asking that President-elect Donald Trump keep his promise to be the President for all Americans, by speaking clearly and loudly against the hate.

“Donald Trump has said he will be the president for all Americans. We ask that he keeps that promise by loudly, forcefully, unequivocally and consistently denouncing acts of hate being carried out in his name and the ideology that drives them,” reads the petition addressed to President-elect Donald Trump. It was launched on 18 November and signed by the American Federation of Teachers’ President, Randi Weingarten, and Maureen B. Costello, Director of Teaching Tolerance at Alabama’s Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit organisation combatting hate, intolerance and discrimination through education and litigation.

Throughout American history, the petition explains, Americans have found opportunities to overcome their differences and work together for the common good, noting that “it is one of the defining characteristics of our nation’s greatness”.

Hateful language

The statement condemns the fact that Trump’s election campaign rhetoric found an audience with those who would use differences to divide the American people. It says that, throughout the campaign, Trump, along with his supporters, directed hateful language at people “based on what we look like, where our families come from, who we love, how we worship, our abilities, our gender, and other factors that make up our identity and expression in the world”.

The signatories are especially troubled by incidents taking place in schools and on college campuses—places where educators and citizens do everything they can to ensure children are safe and nurtured and have the opportunity to grow and learn free of intimidation and hatred. They highlight how anecdotal evidence points to children chanting “build the wall” at classmates, with Muslim students and educators harassed for their clothing, female students intimidated by male classmates, and swastikas being painted on classroom doors.

NEA: Need to nurture all students

“The post-election acts of racism and hate in our schools are heart-breaking. Now more than ever we have to make sure, with every fibre of our being, that ALL students feel welcome, safe, supported. And loved,” said Lily Eskelsen García, President of the National Education Association (NEA), who also signed the Stop the Hate statement.

“The NEA strongly believes that schools should be havens of peace. However, many students are scared, anxious, and feel threatened. To help counter this, NEA has released resources outlining steps educators can take to respond to incidents of hateful words, actions and images and make sure their students feel welcome, supported and valued,” Eskelsen Garcia concluded.

You can sign the petition here