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THE GREAT DIVIDE

Boston Latin School apologizes for ‘disparaging’ student assignments about neighborhoods posted in library

Boston Latin School.John Tlumacki

Boston Latin School leaders apologized to the school community Thursday and took down a library exhibit of student writing assignments after receiving complaints about stereotyping and disparaging comments in the assignments.

As part of an eighth grade civic action project, students were asked to write about stereotypes about their own neighborhoods with the goal of countering biases, Head of School Rachel Skerritt and Associate Head of School Jonathan Mulhern wrote in a letter to the school community.

“However, the impact, particularly in some selections depicting West Roxbury and South Boston, was one where students saw stereotyped and disparaging statements about communities to which they belong,” Skerritt and Mulhern said. “The exhibit has been removed, though we know that this does not remove the harm that was done.”

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An example shared on social media of a posted assignment read, “To understand West Roxbury, you would have to be white and rich” and also referenced Trump supporters, anti-maskers, and “slightly racist white people.”

“We deeply regret and apologize to members of our school community who were hurt or felt less welcome at BLS as a result of this display, and we thank those who have reached out to our school staff to learn more and express their concerns,” the school leaders wrote. “While our committed and reflective educators aim to create conditions for students to share their lived experiences with one another, we recognize that displaying these pieces created an inaccurate perception that the viewpoints expressed are widely held or even endorsed by the school itself.”

In a statement, the district said it is “working with school leadership and our Equity Office to review this lesson, to continue our growth process as educators and move toward our goal of being culturally responsive and anti-racist.”

“We understand that these essays were deeply upsetting for members of the BLS and broader BPS and Boston community,” the statement read. “They were part of a bias-based lesson in which students were asked to write about their own neighborhoods and how they might be perceived by others.”

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Christopher Huffaker can be reached at christopher.huffaker@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @huffakingit.