Diversity and acceptance are the two ideals Bear Creek students hold high above the rest. We boast an overwhelmingly positive campus environment full of loyal Bruin spirit, and with a student body as diverse as ours, part of that spirit manifests as a celebration of the many different backgrounds and identities that define our students.
Our school-wide mantra, the “Bruin Way,” serves as a daily reminder to ‘interact positively’ and ‘understand diversity,’ but how can we be sure that these behaviors are truly being practiced? How do we tangibly measure positivity? After all, it’s one thing to tell ourselves that we value the differences in cultures, ethnicities, identifications and ideas that make up our school’s population; it’s another thing entirely to tolerate these differences while not actively accepting diversity.
The reason I am taking such a critical approach to our campus climate is because of a recent incident that occurred with several teachers here at Bear Creek. When journalists from our school’s newspaper, The Bruin Voice, reached out to LGBT-identifying staff to share their stories for an article, most were uncomfortable with speaking so publicly on the topic. All but one of these teachers either refused an interview or would only agree to one under the promise of anonymity.
It’s unfortunate that teachers at a school which praises itself for its diversity are reluctant to share for fear of retribution from an “accepting” community. I can only imagine how it would feel to be part of a minority in a less tolerant environment.
I’ve seen and experienced hatred and disrespect at Bear Creek first-hand, and I know just how un-loving this campus can be — we’re still a high school, after all, and optimistic promises of acceptance will only go so far. Although great strides have brought us closer to equality, members of the LGBT community still face their fair share of bigotry, even at Bear Creek. The slur “faggot,” loaded with historical tension, is still prevalent in teenage vernacular to the point that one might even hear it daily. LGBT identifications are still the punchline of many jokes, and some students even go out of their way to misgender transgender students.
LGBT students live in constant fear of humiliating remarks and malicious comments. It makes complete sense that teachers want to avoid this degradation just as much as students. While it’s a shame that we will not be hearing these teachers’ stories, at least not yet, it is an even greater shame that we, a community that prides itself in acceptance, don’t appear ready to hear their stories.