(Center of the American Experiment) — A group of high school students called Minnesota Teen Activists organized a statewide school walkout last Monday to protest racial injustice, harassment, and bullying, but students who chose to stay in class and not to participate were then themselves harassed and bullied, according to accounts shared by students themselves.
Minnetonka High School Principal Jeff Erickson told parents in written communication that he “respect[ed] and honor[ed] the students’ right of expression” but that “no student should be made to feel uncomfortable if they ch[o]se to remain in class.”
Two Minnetonka high school students who didn’t participate in the protest shared with American Experiment that they felt anything but comfortable in their educational environment.
One student said she was verbally accosted, flipped off, and called racist for not participating, adding that no adults were present to keep the peace. Another student said he was intimidated by a group of students for remaining in class and told that if he is not an “anti-racist,” he is racist.
Several Minnetonka families decided to keep their children home from school because of threats of intimidation.
In Edina, a high school student shared that she decided to stay home from school to avoid any confrontation or targeting by her peers for not participating in the protest.
These students asked to remain anonymous out of concern for their safety. The number of students who are afraid that their values, principles, and beliefs will result in them being publicly shamed and targeted is alarming. This creates a hostile educational environment that does not promote the dignity and common humanity of all students.
Catrin Wigfall is a Policy Fellow at Center of the American Experiment.
Catrin’s experience in education and policy research began during her time with the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. Her interest in education policy led her to spend two years teaching 5th grade general education and 6th grade Latin in Arizona as a Teach for America corps member. She then used her classroom experience to transition back into education policy work at the California Policy Center before joining American Experiment in February 2017.
Catrin graduated summa cum laude from Azusa Pacific University in California, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science.