Letter: We are on the same side
As your teachers, it breaks our hearts to know that some of you have been victims of sexual assault, especially when many of us, myself included, can personally relate to your experiences. It hurts because we spend each and every day trying to be there for you, not only as your teachers, but as fellow humans.
We open our minds and our hearts to you in an effort to teach empathy through the shared experience of what it’s like to be human. We celebrate your successes and mourn your losses. When you hurt, we hurt, because we see you as an extension of our family.
Therefore, to be accused of not caring about you is painful and personal. And to be accused of being the ones causing you pain, rather than protecting you from it, is the very last thing our actions were intended to produce. We are on your side, and we want to be better for you.
This issue is complex, and there are many different truths at play here, none of which negates the validity of another. It is true that no student should ever have to feel the pain of assault. It is true that some of you have had negative experiences at the high school. It is also true that some of you haven’t.
It is true that you have built strong relationships with some teachers, and weaker connections with others. It is true that leadership at the school has been inadequate in some areas but excellent in others. It is true that you feel pain. It is also true that we do too.
A negative culture and climate does not start and end at the doors of Steamboat Springs High School but is often pervasive in our community as a whole. In fact, I am sick to my stomach as I sit here and write this because I know my words will likely result in public ridicule from some people.
We can do better as a community. Right now, we are all at home because of the belief that it may spare us the pain of losing loved ones. Sharing a collective understanding of the human experience is empathy, and now, more than ever, we must all engage with each other through an empathetic lens. Not doing so has somehow pitted us against each other, when we are in fact on the same side.
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