A Massachusetts middle school promoted racially segregated “safe spaces” to students after Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges after he was accused of first-degree homicide during riots in Kenosha, Wis., in August 2020.
In a Dec. 1 letter to students and their parents obtained by Parents Defending Education, Principal Chassity Coston of Bigelow Middle School in Newton, Mass., advertised a period of time during the school day on Dec. 2 for students to visit various “safe spaces” where they could “process and express their feelings” in both the Rittenhouse and Ahmaud Arbery cases.
“These are both sensitive topics with many layers of political, racial, and social concerns,” the letter states. “Regardless of those concerns, the Kyle Rittenhouse conclusion will likely be seen as yet another unfair reality for many Bigelow families, staff, and students—particularly our community members of color, while the Ahmaud Arbery conclusion may be seen as a glimpse of hope and justice.”
Parents were encouraged by Coston to talk with their children about which potential “safe space” they might want to attend instead of their advisory class period. Among the three areas students could go were the library for “Reactions to Verdicts: Hearing and learning from peers,” the gym for “Rumor Control Room: Facts presented in cases, today’s laws, and final verdicts,” and the auditorium for “Questions & Discussion for Students of Color.” The last “safe space,” the letter noted, was specifically for “Bigelow students of color to process and get answers to any questions you have regarding these two cases.”
“We understand that real-world situations like these are learning opportunities for you, and we want to make sure to support you as much as possible. These are the moments when our shared learning, conversations and advocacy will make a difference in our community,” the letter concludes.