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California students spell out racial and anti-gay slurs in photos at school event

California students spell out racial and anti-gay slurs in photos at school event

Escondido High School in California

A group of students at a California high school took photos during a school event spelling out various slurs. The Escondido Union High School District confirmed a photo showing one of the racial slurs is real.

The photos were taken on Thursday (27 September) at Escondido High School’s senior picnic. Some students wore t-shirts with a single letter on them.

In one photo, students lined up and spelled the n-word with the shirts. In another, they spelled out the word ‘f*gs’, as seen in social media posts calling out the school.

According to ABC 10 News, it’s tradition for seniors to wear shirts with letters. All the words must be pre-approved by the school. After the official and approved photos are taken, however, students often gather and take personal photos.

Cade Pannell, a graduate of the school, told ABC 10 the photos ‘hurt me personally’.

‘Whether they thought it was a joke, it’s not. And if you do think it’s a joke, I think that’s very ignorant of you,’ he added.

Another student, Jovan Pete, who graduated last year, is worried the photos will hurt the school’s reputation.

‘I think its a great school. The teaching is great, sports are good, I never had problems here,’ he said, referring to his race.

Educating about consequences

On the school’s Facebook page, Principal Dr. Adriana Lepe-Ramirez wrote a post about the incident.

Escondido High School Facebook post
The principal’s statement | Photo: Facebook/Escondido High School

In the post, the principal writes ‘actions have been taken and students are receiving consequences’.

‘We believe the lessons to be learned need to, and can, far exceed a period of punishment,’ she continues. ‘Together, we have begun the process of educating all on the implications and power of one’s actions and decisions.’

Dr. Lepe-Ramirez also addressed the student body Friday morning (28 September).

‘I understand that the messages that were posted on social media incited anger and frustration, but I want to encourage you all to remember that the only thing that combats hate is love, the only thing that combats divisiveness is unity,’ she said.

‘We cannot allow the poor choices of others to take away from who we are and what we represent as a school and as a community. It is now, more than ever, that we need to stand united in peace and in love. We cannot and will not allow this incident to define us or divide us. It is our diversity that makes us better and our understanding of one another that brings us together.’

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