BASEHOR, Kan. — A Kansas school district is working to make schools more inclusive for all students.
Officials at Basehor-Linwood High School confirmed four white high school students are seen in a video using racial slurs toward a Black student from a different district.
The district can’t release details about their punishment, but officials hope to use this incident as chance to focus on emphasizing respect for all people.
Students have a safe space to talk about their feelings on this incident and others in the Diversity Club.
Cheyanne Leonard is now a junior at the high school and has been in the club since freshman year.
“I instantly recognized the faces and you’re just like I don’t even know who the person is that they were talking about, but you’re just like, that is not acceptable,” Leonard said.
The Diversity Club meets at least once a month, and all students are welcomed.
“I think it’s very important because I know a lot of students have a hard time talking about those differences,” Leonard said. “I know it can be difficult, especially going to like a counselor, but we know that this club environment that we created is very safe, and nothing’s going to leave, and we are open and not judgmental in any way.”
The latest data from the district shows 84% of its students are White, 1% Black, 1% Asian, 8% Hispanic, 5% multi-racial, and less than 1% Native American. Jarred Fuhrman, Principal at Basehor Linwood High School says officials are working to make the school more inclusive for everyone through the diversity club, uncomfortable conversations about discrimination, and educating students, parents and staff.
“I think sometimes when, when things happen, it gives us opportunities to really sit back and just reflect and say, what, what can we do differently to help all of our kids and to help support all of them, no matter what color, what gender, what race, it doesn’t matter,” Fuhrman said.
Fuhrman says the district has been working with surrounding areas to learn more about how they promote diversity and inclusion.
“Unfortunately, there’s not a magic wand that you can wave and it’s going to take time. It’s not an overnight thing,” Fuhrman said. “We’ll continue to work with parents and our staff and students to educate them. I think our kids have really been appreciative of just some of the conversations we start to have.”
Leonard hopes the Diversity Club expands to elementary schools to help teach students to respect the differences of others.
“I want to see the club expand, I want to see it getting across and that we have more and more people come in and know that this is a safe place for us,” Leonard said. “I want them to know that this is very important to us, and that other people can start seeing it in ways that they haven’t been seeing it.”
The district has started collecting information from parents, students, and the community to help build its five-year strategic plan that will include a plan for addressing diversity and inclusion long term.