Zero Tolerance Policy: Queer Students’ Response


Evie Pazan

Pride flag hidden in bushes on DP campus.

On Thursday, February 23, the “Respectful Treatment of All Persons” policy was announced to DP students and families via StudentSquare. The message specified that the expectation was “A zero tolerance for the use of any racial, religious, or other slurs whether directed at an individual or not. All staff will be expected to immediately interrupt and publicly shut down any of these behaviors if they hear or witness them.”

There has been discourse among students about how admin will approach the use of slurs by marginalized communities reclaiming them. The queer community has mixed opinions on how the administration should move forward.

Queer students disagree on whether they and other students within the community should be allowed to use homophobic or transphobic slurs in the classroom.

Some students argue that the use of these terms should be permitted to some extent.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong for a student who is queer to use slurs, or slurs that are directed to their core identity, for example, a gay student using the F slur or a trans student using the T slur? [I do not] think that they should necessarily be punished for using terms like that. I don’t think that’s any worse for them than using a swear word,” junior Finnegan Wright said.

Freshman Ollie McGrath does not encourage the use of slurs in classrooms but doesn’t think queer students should get in trouble for using slurs that apply to them either.

Other students feel as though slurs of any kind are inappropriate in a classroom setting regardless of who is using them.

“I don’t think [using slurs] in a classroom setting would be appropriate. I believe that I’ve had a conversation with my class about this [and that] there are better words in a classroom setting,” senior Michelle Capuno said.

“I don’t think you should use slurs in classrooms just period, because there are [some people who] just aren’t comfortable with them,” sophomore Maya McLaughlin said.

This discourse also comes down to a disagreement with how the use of slurs would affect class culture and whether or not it would encourage students who aren’t in the queer community to use homophobic and transphobic slurs.

Finnegan feels as though queer students using slurs in an empowering way is not harmful to the community.

“In situations where [a queer person is speaking to another queer person], [using slurs] isn’t necessarily harmful, because they both know what’s debunking the joke. And it’s, it’s a form of them sort of working with their identities and working with what’s appropriate for them to use,” they said.

Both Senior Timmy Braun and Maya fear that queer students using homophobic or transphobic slurs in classrooms could desensitize people to these terms and possibly encourage non-queer students to use them.

“A lot of slurs end up used, like, thrown around. Sometimes it’s not safe,” Timmy said. “Sometimes [it] also gives the impression: if a straight person hears a queer person say a slur…[the straight person] may say the slur.”

“I feel like if you only let the gay people say slurs like that apply to them, it really wouldn’t do any good things. Then people would [feel like] they can say it [too],” Maya said.

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