- NBC 7
- Several teachers from San Pasqual High School’s foreign language department dressed up for their yearbook photos, KGTV reported.
- But people think the decision to dress in costume – in particular, the choice of some Spanish teachers to wear sombreros and faux mustaches – is culturally insensitive.
- The school responded to the backlash in a statement saying it was “in poor judgment” and that it will “use this situation as a tool to remind students, as well as staff, to remember the impacts of their words and actions.”
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A high school in Escondido, California, is facing backlash over some of the staff photos included in its yearbook.
Specifically, several teachers from San Pasqual High School’s foreign language department dressed up for their yearbook photos, according to KGTV.
But people think the decision to dress in costume. In particular, the choice of some Spanish teachers to wear sombreros and faux mustaches – is culturally insensitive. A French teacher was also pictured wearing a beret and sunglasses.
Community members had mixed reactions.
For some, like Martin Reyes who has a child that attends the school, it depends on the intentions behind the actions.
“They could be offensive if they’re making fun of us,” Reyes told KGTV. “It could be something honorable if they’re trying to make honor to the Mexican culture. It would be better without the big mustache and hats.”
Another parent, Merced Juarez, said that she saw no issue with it.
“It doesn’t look offensive to me,” she said.
Tania Marin, a parent and former student at the school, said she thought it was fine given the context.
“I think that lately everything is so sensitive,” she told NBC 7. “If they were teaching Russian and they had a Russian hat, I would find it hilarious.”
One parent questioned why the pictures were taken.
“As leaders in the school, that wasn’t thought through very well. I’m sure it went through a lot of hands,” Brooke Angaga said.
Following community and online backlash to the costumes and poses, the district responded.
In a statement provided to the Times-Advocate, Principal Martin Casas said the pictures were “culturally insensitive and in poor judgment.” Casas said the pictures were taken as the teachers’ ID photos at the beginning of the school year and then repurposed as their yearbook pictures.
“San Pasqual High School takes pride in its rich history and diversity. It is our intent to use this situation as a tool to remind students, as well as staff, to remember the impacts of their words and actions,” Casas said. “We are committed to continuing our efforts to ensure all students, families and staff feel welcome and valued.”
That statement was also posted on the school’s Twitter.
Statement regarding some staff photos that appeared in our yearbook that are culturally insensitive, offensive, and in poor judgement. pic.twitter.com/08vEg9RjTz
— San Pasqual High (@SanPasqualHS) May 21, 2019
A spokesperson for the high school told INSIDER that on Tuesday the school conducted an in-class exercise to address the situation where students could discuss how the incident makes them feel and what could be done to “prevent this from happening again.”
“This is part of a long journey to continue our work to becoming culturally proficient organization,” the spokesperson said. “This will require us to have courageous conversations and to reflect on our biases.”
Casas said he is committed to changing the culture at the school.
“Cultural appropriation is offensive, even if the intent is not to offend, and has no place in our school,” he said. “We have a lot of work to do.”
- Read more:
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