Students Stage Walkout to Protest Video Featuring Racial Slurs

Hundreds of pupils at an Oregon high school staged a walkout on Wednesday in response to a video posted on social media showing some students using racial slurs.

It came after an Instagram post linked to students at Tigard High School surfaced over the Thanksgiving weekend.

The post contained "offensive and hurtful racist language," the school's principal Brian Bailey said in a letter to students and families.

According to Tigard High School's online student publication The Paw, the post "targeted no specific individuals but rather targeted their communities as a whole."

According to KGW, some Tigard students could be heard using slurs against Muslim, Black and Asian people in the video, which also made its way to TikTok.

The incident prompted hundreds of students to walk out of class in protest shortly after 11 a.m. on Wednesday and gather to discuss their experiences with racism and discrimination at the school.

Some said they had been on the receiving end of racial insults at school.

"You can't even walk 15 feet without being called a racial slur," Jordyn Smith, a student, told KGW. "It's not OK to be called the n-word, to be called monkeys, to be called anything to anyone. It's not OK at all."

Tigard-Tualatin School District Superintendent Sue Rieke-Smith told the station that the video had left her feeling disgusted and disappointed.

Rieke-Smith was at the school to hear what students had to say, and said the school will provide safe spaces for students to discuss the incident as well as provide staff with training to help them recognize and stop microaggressions and hate speech.

"It's the beginning of a much larger process to get at this issue and do it in a way that brings everyone along with us," Rieke-Smith told the station.

It wasn't immediately clear what disciplinary action the students involved will face, but students taking part in the walkout have called for those in the video to be suspended.

Letter From the Principal

In his letter, provided to Newsweek, the principal said: "This situation in no way represents our districts' values or our commitment to ensuring every student that walks through our doors feels welcome, respected, and safe. Additionally, it goes against everything Tigard High School (THS) stands for."

Bailey added the school's focus "will be to address the individuals who have caused harm and equally as important—to provide spaces and resources to those who have been harmed by this careless act.

This will include "new learning, unlearning, re-educating and accountability for those who caused harm" and "listening sessions and holding space for students to unpack the harm this incident caused."

The letter added that the school would be "proactive and work together to improve our culture and climate by: hosting staff trainings on recognizing and disrupting microaggressions and hate speech; student lessons on understanding, recognizing and disrupting microaggressions and hate speech; holding affinity spaces for students, staff and families."

Updated at 10:40 a.m. ET on 12/2/21: This article has been updated with additional information.

empty classroom stock photo
A file photo of a classroom. Students at an Oregon high school staged a walkout to protest a video featuring racial slurs posted by a student on social media. iStock