California high school students face disciplinary action over disgusting racist 'prank'
Last week, a group of seniors from Escondido High School near San Diego, California, landed themselves in hot water after pulling a "prank" which saw them spell out racist and homophobic slurs in photos that were shared on Snapchat. At least 10 pupils were involved in the incident, the details of which went viral after pictures found their way onto Twitter and Instagram.
The so-called prank involved students standing in lines to spell out offensive terms with letters that were printed on their shirts. They were supposed to be spelling pre-approved words for their senior photos (as is apparently the tradition at their school), but rearranged themselves into a different order because they thought it would be "funny".
News of the offensive actions spread when other students and alumni of Escondido High School shared the posts on social media, with most of them criticising the individuals depicted in the photos.
Since then, several other pupils have come forward to say that this was an isolated incident.
"Racism is definitely not a problem at our high school," EHS student Nyla McGlory told BuzzFeed News this weekend. "A few students decided to spell out some dumb stuff to be funny in the moment, I guess, but that's not us or what most of us believe. Nothing like this has ever really happened before."
The school's principal has since posted a statement about the matter on Facebook, saying that "actions have been taken" and that the students' behaviour has invoked a wider discussion on the importance of "one's actions and decisions".
"Dear Cougar Family,
"As the principal of EHS, I want to thank you for sharing your concerns and suggestions following the situation that occurred last Thursday on our campus.
"I want to assure you that actions have been taken and students are receiving consequences; however, specifics must remain confidential.
"We believe the lessons to be learned need to, and can, far exceed a period of punishment.
"Our school community, along with alumni, families, fellow schools and others are sharing in this pain.
"Together, we have begun the process of educating all on the implications and power of one’s actions and decisions. This will be a continuing process and I will provide updates throughout the year.
According to other students, those involved in the photos have faced punishments varying from suspension to being banned from extra-curricular activities.
Since the pictures went viral, one of the students involved gave an interview with the Free Hugs Project on YouTube in which she apologised for her actions, explaining that the group had been "hyping it up thinking it was going to be so cool and funny."
"I am scared to go back to school but I am going to try and show people that's not who I really am because that's for sure not who I want to be," she said. "I want to show people that's not right. I've learned from my mistakes."
While they may have thought it was a bit of harmless fun at the time, then, the consequences faced by these kids demonstrate that racism and homophobia are no laughing matter and that kids need to be educated on the reasons why such slurs or actions are offensive.