Responding to Hateful Speech in Schools

Roz Thompson, AWSP
Dec 07, 2020

In a recent article published by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), author Mica Pollock addresses the topic of hateful speech in schools. She writes, “hate-filled speech has been on the rise as students (and adults) emulate divisive and derogatory language heard in national rhetoric and policy.” 

So how might educators respond to hateful speech?

Pollock suggests that “Educators should never passively tolerate hateful speech. Instead, we forbid threat speech and harassment. We challenge all speech that denigrates or misrepresents ‘types of people.’ We treasure free speech, not as some ‘right’ to disparage others without any consequences but as the ability to discuss ideas. Each of these ways of handling speech is core to an educator's job.” 

What are specific strategies for responding?

Pollock encourages educators to listen, focus on the facts, ask students to use evidence, and to respect privacy. She also says to remember that “your overall task is to support the safety and well-being of the students in your room, along with their learning.” 

She offers several dialogue suggestions in her article and also refers readers to the website #USvsHate for more specific lessons and examples of activities that help students get to know and respect their peers. 

Read more from ASCD.

  • bullying
  • speech
  • hate speech
  • Safety
  • school safety
  • school safety

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