ELWOOD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — In a community demanding more teaching of tolerance in schools, a hate-filled string of text messages among teenagers has been made public.
The Elwood School District on Long Island claims it’s dealing with the situation swiftly, but privately, with the students involved.
But some parents say that is not enough, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Monday.
It started as a private chat between students from John Glenn High School, a shocking exchange that included racial epithets and degrading insults about gays and Jews. It’s now all very public. Someone screen-grabbed and shared it on social media, calling it out as racist and homophobic.
One female student, who did not want to be identified, went a step further.
“It was so hateful, and it was so disgusting and cruel. Some people excuse it as a dark humor joke, but dark humor isn’t hateful like that,” she said.
She said she’s proud she printed out the vile exchange and delivered it to the participants’ parents.
“If we let racist kids grow up with out any repercussions then they are going to be racist adults,” the student said.
The outrage has spread, with calls to the school district from across the country. It has responded with two community letters and a district-wide virtual meeting.
“We teach love, we teach diversity, and the celebration of it,” Elwood School District Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Bossert said.
Bossert is assuring everyone the matter is being investigated. Citing confidentiality, he said those involved will be addressed individually. He added he doesn’t believe the texts reflect the district or even those involved.
“We don’t fight hate with hate and to take a step back and realize that no one wants to be judged on their worst day,” Bossert said.
“It’s not acceptable. It’s just not acceptable on your worst day, on your best day. You shouldn’t be saying things like this and it shouldn’t be justified as everyone makes mistakes,” Elwood resident Felicia McNair said.
McNair and her daughter are some of the many calling for a more public stand on how the district will discipline the teens and mandate tolerance education.
“There needs to be a course implemented into the school where they are learning diversity,” Felicia McNair said.
“How do you expect people to feel comfortable going to school, Black people, gay people, when there are people who are literally hating?” 11th grader Janiya McNair added.
The letter to the community calls the text chain inexcusable and promises serious consequences for those who violate their code of conduct.
District leaders wrote they are confident this terrible act will become a learning experience for all involved, adding, “We are educators. It is our job to make that happen and we will.”
The attorney for one of the six boys involved said his client has apologized and that the comments don’t reflect his values or feelings. A superintendent’s hearing on the matter has not yet been scheduled.