Diversity in West Orange HS Students’ Beliefs

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Diversity in West Orange HS Students’ Beliefs

Myia White, Student Journalist

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Your palms are sweating and you feel a stutter approaching, but you need to get this out. The thought of keeping this to yourself any longer feels like wearing barbed wire as a scarf, the restrictions becoming too much to bear. If you finally say what you want to say, will everyone feel offended, will they no longer like you? The thoughts of being shamed is enough to continue your silence. Feeling a hand over your mouth, shutting you up, once again. This is high school.

Throughout my high school years in West Orange, I have heard so much about diversity in this town and how amazing it is for young adults to grow up here because they are exposed to so much. The diversity appears within race, class, gender, sexuality, and ethnicity but it could be argued that West Orange is not diverse in thought. We hear the terms conservative and liberal and create our own definitions of them and attach the terms to certain individuals that either have ideas reflecting our own or completely different.

In my experiences in West Orange High School classroom settings, various students did not understand the golden rule of opinions which is respecting other people’s opinions. In classes like History of Race, Class, Gender, and Ethnicity or even clubs like Unity, I have seen other peers ridiculed for saying what was on their minds. Social issues like, immigration and rape culture that can cause extremely passionate people to not accept other views aligned with their own.

After sending out a Google form asking students if they felt there was diversity within the population’s beliefs. I want to explore the responses with also including experiences that have revolved around people expressing their views. The options on the form were “Yes”, “No”, or “Maybe” and a majority of the responses were “Yes” proving that most students feel that diversity in beliefs is consistent in West Orange High School. It could be possible that we are a hub for conservatives and liberals, pro-life and pro-choice, against and in favor of LGBT rights but it is also possible we have a high-school that is not always welcoming to accepting other people’s views.

People could feel being in agreeance with the majority is easier than being an outsider and it could be possible West Orange High School students have this mentality. We as people, can never truly know what other people think or believe in but from how they express their views, it is up to people to respond respectfully or not.

Claiming to be a diverse school is much more than being able to walk down the hallway and see people with different color skin than you or being able to hear different languages being spoken. True diversity should coexist with acceptance of these diverse faces, voices, and beliefs. Existing but hiding away how you feel is not true diversity.

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