22 Aug 2014
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Homophobic Slur Written in Snow at ETHS

After someone wrote a homophobic epithet in the snow in front of Evanston Township High School, Superintendent Eric Witherspoon said the act "could be construed as a hate crime."

Homophobic Slur Written in Snow at ETHS

School administrators discovered that someone used their feet to write a homophobic slur in the snow outside Evanston Township High School Thursday morning, according to Superintendent Eric Witherspoon.

In a letter to students, Witherspoon said the act could be considered a hate crime "as vicious as someone painting a swastika on a synagogue or someone burning a cross in a person’s front yard."

"Within our ETHS family we represent the world at large with our different skin colors, different appearances, different languages, different nationalities, different religions, different sexual orientations, different cultures and different backgrounds," he wrote. "The person who stomped a billboard-sized word in the snow has betrayed everything we stand for here at ETHS."

As a response, students drew the word "LOVE," with a peace sign replacing the "O," on school grounds the following morning. 

Below, we have reprinted Witherspoon's letter to students, available on the district website:

Superintendent's Message to Students
February 7, 2013

This morning we discovered that someone had done a terrible thing on our school property. The word FAGGOT was stomped in big block letters on the school lawn.

I cannot begin to express to you how shocked and disappointed I and countless others are at this act of cruelty. I know that many of you who saw the word in the snow this morning were appalled and very troubled to think that anyone would do such a thing at ETHS.

This deliberate act could be construed as a hate crime. A hate crime generally refers to criminal acts that are seen to have been motivated by bias against a certain social group such as racial group, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or gender identity. Incidents of hate crimes may involve physical assault, damage to property, bullying, harassment, verbal abuse or insults, or offensive graffiti or letters. Stomping the word FAGGOT in the snow to intimidate students in this school is as vicious as someone painting a swastika on a synagogue or someone burning a cross in a person’s front yard.

This act of aggression is hurtful and can have damaging effects on the victims’ sense of belonging and feelings of vulnerability.

As members of the Wildkit family, we take pride in our diversity. Within our ETHS family we represent the world at large with our different skin colors, different appearances, different languages, different nationalities, different religions, different sexual orientations, different cultures and different backgrounds. When I speak to parent groups I tell them that one of the special things about our students is how accepting you are of one another and of differences. I tell parents that there is a niche here for everyone, and everyone can feel a sense of acceptance and belonging here. Every parent and guardian wants to know that the child they love will be safe and accepted at school for the person he or she is. And I want each of you to know you belong here.

Today, the person who stomped a billboard-sized word in the snow has betrayed everything we stand for here at ETHS.

So here is my appeal to you. Let’s make sure that the person responsible for this hurtful act gets the message that this act does not represent all of us here at ETHS. Let’s redouble our commitment as individuals and as a Wildkit family to honoring diversity, celebrating diversity, and cherishing the opportunity to be attending a school where we experience our beautiful diversity each day. Let’s never forget who we are and what we stand for. This is one of the premier high schools in America for many important reasons, and it all begins with our diversity. Let’s make sure that all students and staff at ETHS feel a true sense of belonging here. Never forget, we are a family. We are Wildkits.

Dr. Witherspoon

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