HARRISBURG - Over the last week, students and graduates of Biglerville High School in Adams County have publicized serious allegations of racism and harassment at the school via their social media pages on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The alumni and students behind the platform Racism at Biglerville High School have shared multiple examples of both students and staff engaged in racist behavior, including repeated use of racial slurs. Those running the platforms have also expressed their concern that a school administrator has tried to identify the anonymous students behind the social media effort and their fear that they could be punished by the school.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania released a statement in support of the students today. The following can be attributed to Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania:
“The allegations about the racist behavior at Biglerville High School are serious. All students have a right to a free and equal education. When students are subjected to racist and xenophobic harassment and bullying by students and staff, their ability to learn in a safe environment is compromised.
“The school district is responsible for addressing allegations of racism, harassment, and bullying. According to students and graduates, the school has failed to do that for many years. We also want to reiterate that the school needs to be mindful that it cannot punish students for speech that criticizes the school and cannot use its authority to unmask the people behind the social media sites.
“The ACLU stands with the brave young people behind the social media campaign. They have done the community a great service by exposing the ugly underbelly of racism that they say has existed at their school for years. This is how healing happens. We will continue supporting the students and their allies and look forward to hearing more about how the district plans to move forward to create an inclusive and equitable environment at Biglerville High School.”
Learn more about the ACLU of Pennsylvania’s work on protecting the rights of students and youth at aclupa.org/studentyouthrights.