Letter: The DEI School Survey—And Why ER9 Needs It

To the Editor:

The ER9 Joint Boards of Education Task Force on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion has proposed a survey. The purpose is to acknowledge the diversity among students and staff and assess their comfort in the ER9 community. Personally, as a current sophomore at Joel Barlow High School, I strongly believe in the possible insight that can be gained from the results of this survey.

“But Barlow is mostly white.” Yes, that’s true. But saying that is a perfect example of why we need this survey. By saying this, only white people are being acknowledged and the other races are alluded to. This undermines those that do bring racial diversity to Barlow. There are also countless other kinds of diversity assessed by this survey. They consist of the following: socioeconomic status, gender, sexual identity, gender identity, ethnicity, sexual orientation, cognitive ability, physical ability, diverse language fluency, physical appearance, and religion.

When you break diversity down into these categories, Barlow is spread out across the board. And I think that most students would admit that many are discriminated against based on where they fall in the categories listed above. Even as a middle-class, cisgender, white, straight, Easton resident I still have been discriminated against for things such as my gender. It’s common to see female students at Barlow being ignored and downplayed by their male peers, and something that I experience daily. Although, I am in no way negating the diversity struggles of others. I’m just shedding light on how common it is (no matter the scale), and how many are examples of the diversity struggle here at Barlow.

I’ve also seen blatant discrimination against members of the LGBTQ+ community. With a survey acknowledging their struggles, I feel as if my peers at Barlow will begin to feel more comfortable in an environment they have the right to feel comfortable in. Many of those being discriminated against are hesitant to voice their opinions to people in positions of power, which is why many people don’t know about the lack of acknowledgment of diversity and diversity-related struggles. With the results of this survey, their voices will be statistically written on paper. So, what I am saying is to please send out this survey to the student body. There will be clearer results rather than asking those to speak up, and I believe that this will be the first step to a more welcoming community.

Sophie Kempenich

Joel Barlow High School Student