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Homophobic Slur Written in Snow at ETHS

After someone wrote a homophobic epithet in the snow in front of Evanston Township High School, Superintendent Eric Witherspoon said the act "could be construed as a hate crime."

School administrators discovered that someone used their feet to write a homophobic slur in the snow outside Evanston Township High School Thursday morning, according to Superintendent Eric Witherspoon.

In a letter to students, Witherspoon said the act could be considered a hate crime "as vicious as someone painting a swastika on a synagogue or someone burning a cross in a person’s front yard."

"Within our ETHS family we represent the world at large with our different skin colors, different appearances, different languages, different nationalities, different religions, different sexual orientations, different cultures and different backgrounds," he wrote. "The person who stomped a billboard-sized word in the snow has betrayed everything we stand for here at ETHS."

As a response, students drew the word "LOVE," with a peace sign replacing the "O," on school grounds the following morning. 

Below, we have reprinted Witherspoon's letter to students, available on the district website:

Superintendent's Message to Students
February 7, 2013

This morning we discovered that someone had done a terrible thing on our school property. The word FAGGOT was stomped in big block letters on the school lawn.

I cannot begin to express to you how shocked and disappointed I and countless others are at this act of cruelty. I know that many of you who saw the word in the snow this morning were appalled and very troubled to think that anyone would do such a thing at ETHS.

This deliberate act could be construed as a hate crime. A hate crime generally refers to criminal acts that are seen to have been motivated by bias against a certain social group such as racial group, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or gender identity. Incidents of hate crimes may involve physical assault, damage to property, bullying, harassment, verbal abuse or insults, or offensive graffiti or letters. Stomping the word FAGGOT in the snow to intimidate students in this school is as vicious as someone painting a swastika on a synagogue or someone burning a cross in a person’s front yard.

This act of aggression is hurtful and can have damaging effects on the victims’ sense of belonging and feelings of vulnerability.

As members of the Wildkit family, we take pride in our diversity. Within our ETHS family we represent the world at large with our different skin colors, different appearances, different languages, different nationalities, different religions, different sexual orientations, different cultures and different backgrounds. When I speak to parent groups I tell them that one of the special things about our students is how accepting you are of one another and of differences. I tell parents that there is a niche here for everyone, and everyone can feel a sense of acceptance and belonging here. Every parent and guardian wants to know that the child they love will be safe and accepted at school for the person he or she is. And I want each of you to know you belong here.

Today, the person who stomped a billboard-sized word in the snow has betrayed everything we stand for here at ETHS.

So here is my appeal to you. Let’s make sure that the person responsible for this hurtful act gets the message that this act does not represent all of us here at ETHS. Let’s redouble our commitment as individuals and as a Wildkit family to honoring diversity, celebrating diversity, and cherishing the opportunity to be attending a school where we experience our beautiful diversity each day. Let’s never forget who we are and what we stand for. This is one of the premier high schools in America for many important reasons, and it all begins with our diversity. Let’s make sure that all students and staff at ETHS feel a true sense of belonging here. Never forget, we are a family. We are Wildkits.

Dr. Witherspoon

Dan Cox February 11, 2013 at 02:16 AM
Does the shoe fit?
Melanie February 11, 2013 at 03:23 AM
It is offensive and should not be tolerated just as any other derogatory term used to describe any person!!!!!
Festus McMoron February 11, 2013 at 02:51 PM
this was nothing but a prank but today stunts like this are totally blown out of proportion. come on, a hate crime? people today are taking the politically correct mantra way to far. this stunt should not even have been reported. get a life people.
John February 11, 2013 at 03:51 PM
You're confusing symbolism with action. Also, homosexuals were sought out and murdered by the Nazi's, the KKK, the IRA, and virtually every organized mob of 3 people or more since the 1900's. It's safe to say that millions of homosexuals have been murdered, lynched, beaten to death, and violated. So yes, the symbolism between painting a Swastika on a Synagogue or someone burning a cross, is absolutely synonymous with writing FAGGOT on a public schools courtyard.
John February 11, 2013 at 03:52 PM
Pretty easy to say from someone who isn't gay. Then again, your name is "McMoron."
Bill February 11, 2013 at 03:54 PM
Long before the Nazis began the imprisonment and extermination of the Jews, they used language as a means to both intimidate the Jewish people and desensitize non-Jews to considering their Jewish neighbors as "fully human" persons. Accepting offensive and demeaning terms when referring to a group of people is the first step toward the violence of concentration camps and lynch mobs. Some pranks are not harmless, whatever their intent. I applaud Dr. Witherspoon.
john February 11, 2013 at 04:41 PM
ETHS only wants to address race. PEG in its so -called "Courageous Conversations" won't allow discussions of sexual orientation, religion, gender etc.. All of this money is being spent to "isolate race" and "institutional racism". There is a lot more to diversity than just race! Something needs to change!
Festus McMoron February 11, 2013 at 09:59 PM
"It's safe to say that millions of homosexuals have been murdered, lynched, beaten to death, and violated." john, put down the crack pipe. it's people like you who love stirring the pot over piddley little things like this. wasn't eths playing their main rival on friday?? john you need to get a life. you're one angry fellow.
Lonson Williams February 12, 2013 at 04:44 AM
Maybe the perpetrator just saw a bundle of sticks and wanted to point them out.
John February 12, 2013 at 03:12 PM
I was countering your flimsy point. Maybe you should enroll in ETHS McMoron-- your limited world view reveals you're in dire need of a better education. If disagreeing and openly denouncing hatred and biggotry in all forms makes me a crack-loving anger-fueled pot-stirrer, then I need to hit up my dealer and re-up, find a bigger wooden spoon, then in a fit of rage, STIR DAT POT. How does ETHS playing their rivals have anything to do with someone from ETHS writing faggot in the snow? My "life" includes: A) Working for an internationally renowned think-tank in Washington D.C. that specializes in foreign policy and international affairs B) Smoking crack C) Night clubs D) Smoking more crack My life's pretty set.
Festus McMoron February 13, 2013 at 12:48 PM
...john, now i think you're a bigger idiot. "How does ETHS playing their rivals have anything to do with someone from ETHS writing faggot in the snow?" take your blinders off, dufus. you couldn't EVEN comprehend my statement. it was someone from the rival school jerk. again, it's people like you who love making a mountain out of a mole hill. i'd love to be in on this 'think-tank' with idiots like you. i'm sure i'd get a good laugh.

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