Guest Opinions

Students explore how we knowingly, or even unknowingly, develop prejudice

United Vision for Idaho works in partnership with the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights to offer unique programming to classrooms and communities across Idaho. The training is designed to interrupt “The Spiral of Injustice,” exploring the escalation of discrimination through a sequence of language, avoidance, discrimination, violence and elimination targeting “the other,” an individual who is perceived by the group as not belonging, as being different in some fundamental way; often targeted because of association with a group based on class, race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, ability or religious preference.

Participants examine how individuals can participate, knowingly or unknowingly, in discrimination, challenge personal bias, deepen understanding, and identify ways to act as “Upstanders” in their own community. Through UVI, participants explore public policies and civic engagement, identifying ways to actively participate in the democratic process.

On June 1, 21 eighth-grade students from Hailey Sage School participated in the training, writing letters to the editor to address their concerns and calling on the public, legislative and congressional leaders to help. Their comments behoove all of us to stand up to injustice wherever, whenever and however it exists:

▪  “I am concerned about prison sentences based on race. It’s not fair for the African-American citizens of this country are being unfairly targeted and imprisoned. I wouldn’t want to targeted by the police for just walking on the streets. Everyone should care — how would you feel if you always felt targeted?”

▪  “When women aren’t paid the same, it shows that men are superior, that they deserve better than us. Women are being sent a different message that we aren’t good enough, that we aren’t worth the same, that we are unequal. Would anyone want that for themselves, their wives, mothers, daughters or friends? The pay equity bill was printed, but never given a public hearing. Remember, it’s never too late to stand up for human rights and do the right thing.”

▪ “The LBGTQ community can be denied a job, housing, and access to public areas in the state of Idaho. As lead singer of Panic! States, ‘Girls love girls and boys, and love is not a choice,’ the people in this community didn’t choose who they wanted to love, so why should we be discriminated for it?”

▪ “Transgenderism discrimination is unacceptable. It’s time to understand that this is part of our world now, and it’s not leaving, nor is it bad.”

▪ “My race is Asian and I am Korean. Kids on the bus I ride have been calling me Kim Jung Un. People need to be more aware of this problem.”

▪ “After the hate crime in Oregon, I am worried these types of crimes are becoming more common. If you see someone being discriminated against, go help them and show that we will not let people get away with their horrible actions.”

▪ “One of my friends had to leave campus due to three separate instances of sexual assault excused by the phrase, ‘but our president did it.’ ”

Adrienne Evans is the executive director of United Vision for Idaho.