School's 'Diversity Day' Postponement Sparks Anger Among Parents, Students

A day recognizing racial diversity at an Ohio high school was recently postponed hours before the event was scheduled to take place, upsetting people within one local school district.

On Wednesday afternoon, Turpin High School, near Cincinnati, announced that the voluntary racial awareness event known as Racial Diversity Awareness Day, which was supposed to take place on Thursday, was postponed, according to Fox 19. The station reported that the district made the move to allow for a "parent review."

The school also said an itinerary displaying the day's planned events was not sent to parents with permission slips, which have to be signed and returned before students can attend, according to local news station WKRC.

Classroom
Several people are upset after a day recognizing diversity at an Ohio high school was canceled hours before it was to take place. Above, a classroom in Las Vegas on August 24, 2020. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) Ethan Miller/Getty Images

In a statement obtained by Fox 19, the Forest Hills Local School District stated that while they "regret that the event has been postponed," it does have a practice for guest speakers that "requires staff to provide families with information about speakers and topics being covered in advance of the event."

The district's statement also added that families were not given this information in advance, but they are "working to reschedule the event."

Thursday would have been the school's seventh annual Racial Diversity Awareness Day, which is only open to juniors and seniors.

However, some parents are not buying the district's statement, and instead are pointing to new members of the district's school board, who were elected to their position after running on a platform against critical race theory, according to Fox 19.

One parent, Natalie Hastings, who has students in the district, said to Fox 19: "Imagine how this would be if you were an immigrant in our school district. Imagine how this would feel if you're someone who is a minority in our school district?"

A senior at the high school, Claire Mengel, also isn't buying the school's reasoning for the school's postponement.

"There is no precedent for this policy in the district," they told Fox 19. "It is clear that the difference in the board's behavior towards diversity day is because some members of the board do not support our efforts to make Turpin a more welcoming and inclusive environment."

Mengel also added that given the school's late notice, it's likely to create "many logistical problems that I am worried the school board will use to say that there is no way to reschedule the event this year."

School board member, Leslie Rasmussen, also pointed out that those who were upset about the event mentioned to her that it was because they believed the day to be critical race theory. She also said that she suspects those people who raised issues about the day didn't have children who even attended the high school, according to Fox 19.

Kendall Thomas, a law professor at Columbia University, told Newsweek that critical race theory "tracks the ways in which the 'color-blind racism' of today's post-civil rights era entrenches racial disparities, discrimination and disadvantage among Black, Brown and Native American communities without ever explicitly using the language of 'race.'"

Critical race theory, according to Thomas, "challenges us to see that racial injustice in America is not, and has never been, just a problem of isolated instances of individual bias and private prejudice which we can solve by enacting 'color-blind' laws and policies."

In response to Newsweek, the Forest Hills School District sent the following statement: "We regret that the event has been postponed. The district's practice for guest speakers requires staff to provide families with information about the speaker and topics being covered in advance of the event. Unfortunately, that did not happen in this case. We are working to reschedule the event."