The Union St. Journal: Cherry Creek High School's official news source

Union St. Journal

The Union St. Journal: Cherry Creek High School's official news source

Union St. Journal

The Union St. Journal: Cherry Creek High School's official news source

Union St. Journal

Our Solution To Hallway Slurs: Admin Intervention

Wryn Duepre
As students walk through the hall, they are bombarded with slurs, leading to harmful mindsets. While this happens many teachers hide in their classrooms protecting themselves rather than the students.

Sticks and stones may break some bones, but words can kill.

Hallway talk has become dangerously vulgar, making those whose identities connect to the slurs extremely uncomfortable.

The movement to denormalize words like the r-word has stopped in high schools as administrators are stumped with how to discipline speech. Creek kids calling each other r*****s might turn some heads in the hallway, but no action is taken to prevent students from using slurs any more than regular curse words.

But it’s not just ableist talk tainting Creek conversations. In one passing period, students will also hear the f slur, and likely, more than once.

People will always argue about whether free speech encompasses vulgarity, but when speech is this harmful, it has no place in schools. The right to free speech protects lives, but in this case, it endangers them.

According to The Government Accountability Office, in the 2018-2019 school year, about 1 in 4 students saw hate words or symbols written in their schools, such as homophobic slurs.

Whether the slurs are aimed at friends in a joking way or used to harass a stranger in the hall, they have the same negative effect. The intention behind the slur is irrelevant because the word itself holds so much power.

Slurs are more than just a random bundle of letters; they attack the foundation of peoples’ identities, carrying a dark history of violence and hate. While neither should be tolerated, there’s a big difference between calling someone “slow” versus the r-word, or “gay” versus the f slur.

Queer students have no way of knowing whether the snickers are targeted at them, so when hallway talk is littered with talk of f****s, an already stressful environment becomes a dangerous one.

When I hear someone call out f****t in the hallway, my heart instantly stops. Is it friends joking or is today the day I become a cautionary tale to future queer students?

Schools can’t patrol students’ mouths, but that doesn’t mean they should accept the current reality. Creek claims to be “no place for hate,” but isn’t doing enough to police student use of hateful slurs, and that’s harming the wellbeing of students. Teachers are supposed to stand in the hallways during passing periods, but instead hide inside the safety of their classrooms instead. Administrators need to emphasize the importance of their presence during passing periods and make this more of a requirement than a request.

My freshman year, my school ID sporting a rainbow sticker got stolen off of my backpack. Because of my experiences dealing with homophobia at Creek before, I immediately thought this was one of those instances, and haven’t felt safe expressing my identity since.

The safety of knowing teachers are hunkered down in their classrooms during passing period comforts the students spouting slurs, and even the few teachers present in hallways say nothing when they hear them. It’s hard to gauge whether it’s a random teacher’s place to confront these students, but the longer this issue is ignored, the more it grows.

Seeing deans in the hallway is instantly calming to me because I feel safe from the harassment that occurs when they are not present. It’s arguably even more important how a teacher’s presence calms victims of harassment than how it deters the possible harassers.

This issue could be easily solved if my peers could treat one another with respect, but I’m not holding my breath waiting for that pipedream to become reality. Administrators need to confront the issue soon, and reinforce the policy of teachers patrolling the hallways. Student safety should be protected above all else, and that needs to include mental harm too.

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About the Contributors
Jude Gorden
Jude Gorden, Features Editor
 Hi, I’m Jude Gorden and I’m a junior at Creek. This is my second year writing for the USJ, and this year I am the Features Editor. I like to write about current events or problems that affect communities I’m a part of, but I also love to do more lighthearted reviews on pop culture. I’m very excited to take on new responsibilities as an editor this year and improve my writing skills.
Wryn Duepre
Wryn Duepre, Chief Photographer
Hi, my name is Wryn and I am a senior! I am the Chief Photographer for the USJ and this is my second year doing so! I love writing, reading, and taking pictures. I am a freelance photographer in my spare time and I love teaching photography and creating impactful photos that tell stories!

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