Staff Editorial: Tolerance is necessary for a safe school environment


Clarion Staff

The entire 2nd period Clarion staff contributed to this editorial.

The week of November 13, RBHS hosted a week dedicated to tolerance, sponsored by AST. Throughout the school week, the students planned themed days for certain topics. The themes consisted of Gender Equality Day, LGBT Pride Day, Environmental Awareness Day, International Day of Tolerance, and Minority Empowerment Day. In a recent Landmark article, a couple members of the school board expressed their concerns about Tolerance Week having too many political components. Some members believed the themes were controversial and “left winged”.

These comments were implying that Tolerance Week was forcing ideas and beliefs upon the students of RB. However, this was not the intention of AST. The purpose of the week was to promote the idea that students associated with the concepts are in a safe school environment regardless of their identities. The themes were not vigorous either; students could simply choose to wear colors assigned to each day.

There is a big difference between tolerance and acceptance. To tolerate means to allow the existence or occurrence of something without interference, regardless if you agree with it or not. To accept means to believe or recognize an opinion as valid or correct. In no way shape or form was the week meant to sway students’ minds a certain way. If that were the case, this indeed would be very political and not school appropriate.

The reason some students feel provoked by these comments is because school should be a safe environment in a child’s life where they can freely express themselves regardless of their beliefs. They should not be criticized and treated differently because of their opinions. The backlash of those few board members made it seem as if students associated with certain opinions are targeted and can not have a voice at this school. With this idea proposed, the administrators can not automatically assume RB is a school where all students feel comfortable enough to speak about themselves without shame. This makes some kids who go here feel uncomfortable in certain situations and promotes the idea that they can’t talk about certain things. For many people, school is supposed to be an outlet for expression and communication.

It is important that students, the school board, and the community know that the themes of Tolerance Week were not chosen because they are the most important subjects. There are definitely plenty of students at RB who have different viewpoints than most people and still have not been shown that their beliefs can be tolerated at school. Even after the Tolerance Week, many issues were still not touched upon. This means that there are still students out there who have not had the chance to freely express themselves and feel mentally safe at RB. This is an area where Tolerance Week can improve because in no way is it perfect. It would be great if AST could reach out to more students and allow those who are more conservative to be represented. Of course there is a limit to the amount of themes there are each year, but as the years progress, RB can improve on including students from each corner of the school with distinctive perspectives.

Tolerance, unlike acceptance, is something that is necessary. You can choose to accept something. People tolerate things on a daily basis, whether its a person, school, work, or differing viewpoints. Tolerance Week was only trying to mention ideas that are commonly criticized upon, overlooked, and barely tolerated. This doesn’t mean that other things aren’t treated similarly. AST picked topics that many students felt were important. If others wish to incorporate other ideas, then it would be a good idea to consult them.The line between tolerance and acceptance was not blurred for RB students in this event. The goal of Tolerance Week was not at all to introduce political biases, but to give particular students a small spotlight for a while and educate others who often disregard these topics.