PARENTS OUTRAGED After School Bullying Workshop Activity Goes Too Far
Over one hundred parents packed a closed-door meeting Tuesday night at the West Allegheny Middle School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, expressing their outrage regarding a school assembly. At issue was a “workshop” promoted by the school as an anti-bullying exercise. In reality, it may have been an instance of institutional bullying by the school, with more than one parent expressing concerns that bullies in the school now have much more school-provided ammunition for their attacks.
On January 15th the school held an assembly, dubbed a “kindness workshop,” where eighth grade students as young as thirteen-years-old were told to don masks and answer extremely personal questions in front of their gathered classmates. The questions were some of the most personal nature imaginable, things difficult to discuss in private, let alone in front of all of their friends. Parents say it opened their children up to abuse and reduced some students to tears.
The students were instructed to indicate their responses by moving in or out of a circle.
KDKA Pittsburgh reports that there were over two dozen questions put to the students, which included:
Please move to the middle of the circle if:
- You have been impacted by drugs or alcohol
- You have been called fat or made fun of
- You or someone close to you identifies as gay, lesbian, or transgendered
- You have been impacted by mental challenges or learning disabilities
- You or your family has ever worried about not having enough money
- You or someone close to you has been imprisoned
- You have been raised by a single parent
They also asked whether “you or someone in your family is from another country and whether they had been singled out for religious affiliations.
The school defended their actions, stating that a letter had been sent home with students advising the parents of the workshop. They did acknowledge that information regarding the methods to be employed and the nature of the questions was not contained in the letter and that no parents were consulted or given an opportunity to provide input prior to the event. They do claim that students were given the opportunity to opt out of the workshop.
One parent, Diane Kolesar, responded to the school’s actions, saying, “There is now so much damage done to these children and there is no way to go back and make this better for them.”
Another parent, Pam Brosovic, took it one step further, directly to the administrators, challenging them personally, saying, “I asked them to do the same thing they asked the kids to do: Stand in a circle, put a mask on, and step in the circle and say all your problems.”
Another parent, Marie-Noelle Briggs, said, “I would never expect a middle school to ask kids if their parents have been in prison, if they’re [the]same sex, if they’re having financial issues. How is that going to affect them?” More