SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Officials with Salt Lake City School District have issued a statement and apology, following what many felt was an offensive quote from a student was allowed to be included in the Highland High School yearbook.
Due to COVID-19 and the disruption of normal school operations for the latter part of the 2019-2020 school year, students at Highland H.S received their yearbooks much later than normal. One of the senior quotes in the yearbook included hate speech and was published in spite of the editing protocol in place for the yearbook.
One student posted about the offensive comment on social media voicing their opinion on the quote and how they were shocked that it made it into the final copies of the yearbooks that were sent out to students and families.
The quote reads: “There are only two genders and a lot of mental illness”
The student that voiced their concern on social media felt the quote is an attack towards the transgender community at Highland High.
Upon becoming aware of this quote, Salt Lake City District interim superintendent Larry Madden issued the following statement:
“This yearbook quote is absolutely unacceptable and in no way reflective of the Salt Lake City School District, the value we place on every student, and the standards we strive to uphold. Let me make it clear that the Salt Lake City School District condemns hate speech in any form. I would also like to issue an apology to any students or community members who have suffered or felt attacked because of this detestable statement. To have something like this included in one of our high school yearbooks is abhorrent. We are committed to providing a safe and equitable learning environment for all students, including our LGBTQIA+ community. To our LGBTQIA+ and other marginalized students I say, please know how deeply your teachers, school administrators, and district leaders care about you and your well-being. This quote was offensive and inappropriate. The district will be conducting a thorough investigation into how this was allowed to happen, and I will be working closely with the new principal at Highland High School to make sure we review the yearbook editing process so that nothing like this ever happens again.”
Newly minted Highland H.S. principal Jeremy Chatterton responded by saying:
“I want to echo Superintendent Madden’s apology and affirmation that this statement is in no way reflective of our beliefs or practices at Highland High School or in the Salt Lake City School District. The inclusion of this quote in the yearbook is more than just an administrative oversight; it is an affront, an attack on our Highland community and our LGBTQIA+ community in particular. As principal, I will not allow hate speech like this in my school community. While the student in question has graduated, I want to reassure community members that I will take the steps necessary to make sure something like this is never allowed to happen again. I know many in our community have been deeply hurt by this quote. We care about the mental well-being of our students and will make counselors available to any students who have been impacted by this statement and wish to speak to someone. Please email me at Jeremy.Chatterton@slcschools.org to set up an appointment with a counselor.”