I am a sophomore at Evanston Township High School, and I feel like it is safe to say that Evanston likes to present itself as a progressive beacon when in reality, it consistently falls short.
We saw this pattern when Evanston passed a reparations bill that ultimately was just a glorified housing bill and when ETHS set up a hybrid model almost entirely guided by vocal white families.
Further, at ETHS this year, 82% of students who identified themselves as people who present as a woman and who responded to my questions said they have had a teacher commit a microaggression towards them based on their gender identity.
Ninety percent of students who responded and who identified themselves as people who present as women have had a student commit a microaggression against them based on their gender.
I had gathered these statistics as part of a project in my Civics class this year. The project is designed for us to individually identify an issue in our community and find ways to advocate for those affected by it. After gathering these statistics, I quickly realized this was about more than sexist microaggressions between students.
Trans students reported being repeatedly deadnamed (being referred to by the name they used pre-transition, which can be very triggering) by teachers they were out to.
A student of color shared that when they wore the logo of a prestigious college to school a white teacher questioned if they even knew where the school was after asking their white peers if they have family who attend the school named on their clothes. Teachers committing acts of implicit or explicit misogyny create a catalyst for students to do the same to each other.
Acts like these are often small, but they directly contribute to a biased and untrustworthy classroom environment which can drastically change how a student perceives a subject, or how safe they feel in class.
If hate is taught, and if 82% of students have felt a biased environment amplified by teachers, then what are we continuing to teach?
ETHS needs to put systems in place to help teachers unpack their own biases that negatively impact their students.
While a large number of teachers do put the effort in to reflect on their impact on their students, it only takes one teacher to create an unsafe environment. ETHS cannot continue to let teachers slip through the cracks when it comes to dismantling prejudice.
— Natalie Svolos