Students come to school to learn, see their friends, and be part of the community. However, there are factors that make the school environment itself a very different experience for each of them. That’s why it was crucial to have BVSD student voices at the table to discuss equity.
There were 40 diverse voices on the Equity Council, which formed in July. The first topic was the role of School Resource Officers (SROs) in schools. Eight of the Council members were students from various High Schools and one Middle School in the district.
The topic of SROs and safety was a very timely one for students.
“Doing work like this is never going to be easy but I think it was good to start with something big, something important, and something recent,” said Marilynn Shea, a sophomore at Fairview High School. “There have obviously been a lot of protests about police brutality this summer and racial injustice. So I think it was good to start with a big, important topic to really learn how to work with people.”
“All through High School and even before High School we’ve definitely been aware of safety in terms of mass shootings because we’ve grown up doing active shooter drills and lockdown procedures basically as long as I can remember,” said Whitney Toutenhoofd, a senior at Fairview. “Research has shown that SROs don’t make schools safer. Obviously that’s the idea of them but not when you actually look at the numbers.”
Just the fact that the district created an Equity Council was very welcomed by the students, yet also a somber sign of times we’re living in.
“I think it reflects very heavily on what’s going on in our world right now,” said Grace Mosley, Broomfield High School Sophomore. “I think the fact that our district even has to have an Equity Council to make sure that people of color are being treated fairly in our schools is very sad, it’s very disheartening just because it reflects how the world is right now and how people of color are being treated differently in everyday life.”
Equity is definitely on students’ minds and being able to serve on the Council was an opportunity for them to let their voices be heard.
“Being on the Equity Council was probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever done throughout High School because I got to meet so many people with such a diverse number of perspectives that I probably would not have met otherwise, especially going to Fairview,” added Toutenhoofd. “Oftentimes my educational experience is sort of in a bubble. The people I tend to have classes with and the people I interact with on a daily basis often have very similar upbringings as me. Fairview is very white, not entirely but largely, and I’m white.”
Shea feels there are many issues to discuss around equity.
“As a queer student, I’m pretty LGBTQ-focused,” said Shea. “A big issue is access to gender-neutral bathrooms. That’s something I’d really like to discuss and make a recommendation about. That’s been something on my mind. There’s always going to be issues of equity and I think that there are some issues that are pretty big and some that aren’t super important right now. I think that more time, with the help of this Equity Council, will help take a lot of steps in the right direction.”
Overall, change is what students want to see.They want to be the generation that makes a difference, influences behavior changes, and encourages others to use their voices and be heard.
“I would like to see an attitude change in schools and people in the district,” added Mosley. “I think that’s one of the main goals of our Council is just to bring light to injustices that are happening to people of color in Colorado. I hope this Equity Council allows people to start being more mindful about things that they say or things that they do and to just look at the other side.”
The Equity Council will continue to raise issues of equity within the district, and student’s will always be a central voice of the group.