Statement from Principal Condon, May 2019

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To The Members of the Townsend Harris High School Community:

Yesterday, May 7, 2019, the Townsend Harris High School community was recognized
by the New York City Department of Education as a Respect for All School of Distinction for
2019. This is a great honor and speaks well to the effort students, faculty, and families make to
ensure that people of all cultures, religions, ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations are
welcomed, embraced, and respected by our school community.

In order to continue to live up to this honor, it is important that we remain vigilant and
actively address behaviors that are contrary to our community values. Sadly, I have learned that
examples of disrespectful, insensitive, and bigoted materials have been circulating on social
media among some members of our school community. This material is especially harmful to
our African-American students. Let me be clear, there is no such thing as an “N-Word Pass”. No
member of our community should be printing, distributing, or requesting, in writing, online or
otherwise, that they be given such a pass.

The use of this racial slur or any other, whether in jest or not, is unacceptable in any
circumstance. It directly violates the anti-discrimination policies set by the NYC Department of
Education (Chancellor’s Regulation A-832). It causes personal harm to members of our school
community, and it contradicts our students’ Ephebic Oath vows. Racial slurs also reawaken the
history of abuse, violence, and discrimination faced by people of color.

We will meet this challenge as we always do: by educating. Over the next few weeks,
members of our counseling staff will lead small group meetings with students to further address
this issue. We encourage all families to have open, intentional conversations about the negative
impact of discrimination and discriminatory language. You may find the following resources
helpful in facilitating these discussions:

Teaching Tolerance- A Parent’s Guide to Preventing and Responding to Prejudice)
Anti-Defamation League- Engaging Young People in Conversations Race and Racism
The New York Times- First Encounters with Racism (personal accounts from teenagers)
American Psychological Association- Discussing Discrimination

Brian Condon