Photo: Chenery Middle School
“Kill gays.” “Kill N——rs.” Swastikas.
These are recent examples of hate graffiti found in the bathrooms of Chenery Middle School, all coming after the district school for the town’s 5th to 8th grade students held a school-wide effort to address hate symbols earlier in the month.
In a Tuesday, Oct. 26 email to students and parents, Chenery Principal Karla Koza said hate writing and symbols were found inside student restrooms in the past week, coming a fortnight after the staff and teachers held a school-wide observance to address hate graffiti in the school. These incidents come the same time a racist message was left in the Belmont High School library during an open house.
“Your teachers, our staff, our administration and I are deeply disappointed that this continues. I know most of you do not want this type of hate speech in our school either,” said Koza writing specifically to her students.
“Please remember that all students belong at Chenery. When we see terrible things on our walls, it makes us uncomfortable, makes us feel unsafe, and does not help us to feel connected as the great school we are,” said Koza.
Hate-filled graffiti has an unfortunate legacy at the Chenery. Three years ago, a bathroom was tagged with racist and homophobic language in an unprecedented attack of hate speech at the school. In response to the act, Chenery Principal Micheal McAllister conducted a school-wide activity to explain what happened and what students can do to begin the healing process.
“[W]e continue to see vulgarities and graffiti that erodes the sense of community and safety for our students,” said Koza addressing parents and guardians, adding “[t]hreatening racial and homophobic slurs have no place at Chenery Middle School and do not align with our core values to provide a safe and supportive environment for all students.”
Koza said she will address the matter at Wednesday’s morning announcements. Moving forward, school leaders “will continue to address this hateful graffiti by investigate the incidents and follow up with students and families as needed.”
The District School Resource Officer has been notified while Chon’tel Washington, the district’s newly-hired Director of Equity and Inclusivity and community liaisons including the Belmont Human Rights Commission will serve as resources to the greater Chenery community.
“We urge families to talk about these issues at home,” Kona asked parents. In addition, students may reach out to any trusted adult at our school for support or clarity while Belmont community members may also reach out to the Belmont Human Rights Commission for support.