At Andover High School, students often encounter scrawls of incomprehensible drawings and phrases hastily written on desks, the stalls of bathrooms, and occasionally on the walls. These situations often involve a bored student, unable to access their full mental capacity in order to consider writing on something other than school property. Evidently, some find it amusing to draw male genitalia wherever they please. These acts of stupidity and ignorance are often met by annoyed teachers shaking their heads and saying, “Why can’t they write on something else?”
However, once in awhile, these mindless scribbles meant to provoke laughter or indifference are carried too far. On May 14, a homophobic slur was written in the senior lot, pointing to a particular parking space. The slur was removed by school officials a few days after it was written. The students involved in what seems to be a prank have not been identified, and school officials, when last contacted, were still working to name the students involved.
‘[I]n 2015, the use of gay as an insult, even if it’s meant to jest among two friends, … is embarrassing.’ — Ms. Mitchell
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the term vandalism is defined as a willful or malicious destruction or defacement of public and private property. Although the slur written in chalk was not physically destructive, the student who committed this act should be held accountable for potentially disrupting an atmosphere conducive to a school environment.
As peers, students should be looking out for one another and the goal of each and every member of the Andover High School community should be to grow not only as individuals but as compassionate human beings.
Ms. Mitchell, co-advisor for the Gay Straight Alliance, saw the vandalism firsthand and said, “My initial reaction was that I was frustrated that it was there to begin with. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was just two friends giving each other a hard time. However, in 2015, the use of gay as an insult, even if it’s meant to jest among two friends, and putting that out publicly on school property is embarrassing.”
Ms. Mitchell points out the image that the graffiti sends to members outside the community without context of the situation and details of the event. The immature students who decided it would be okay for a homophobic slur to be written in the school parking lot misrepresent the Andover High School community, which is not only unfair to the other students at the school but also those who will attend the school in the future.
Acts such as these that go unpunished set an inadequate precedent for years to come and provide an environment that fosters intolerance and a lack of moral character in students.
It is unfortunate to see that some students are insensitive to those around them and find it amusing to use language that belittles a specific group of the student body. Although the culprit may never be caught, acts like these should be a reminder to everyone that during our mixed-up teenage years, it’s that much more important to stick up for each other.
By Mari Nagahara