Two staff members of a Missouri school district filed a complaint against their employer this week after claiming they were forced to uphold and promote an ideology they don’t support.
Brooke Henderson and Jennifer Lumley of Springfield Public Schools assert that the school district “forces teachers and staff to affirm views they do not support, to disclose personal details that they wish to keep private, and to self-censor on matters of public interest”.
Lumley is a secretary at the school and Henderson advocates for students with disabilities.
The school threatened that staff would be asked to leave and receive no credit if they didn’t agree to “be professional” and “stay engaged”. The complaint also mentioned that the training program demands its staff become ‘anti-racist educators’.
If staff refuse to undergo equity training “to learn about oppression, white supremacy and systemic racism”, they will face pay reductions.
Henderson and Lumley explain that “equity” really means “the practice of conditioning individuals to see each other’s skin color first and foremost, then pitting different racial groups against each other”, according to the complaint. They also added that it gives “license to punish individuals based on skin color”.
White supremacy is defined as “the all-encompassing centrality and assumed superiority of people defined and perceived as white” in the training program. The school district is also requiring staff to talk about the “Oppression Matrix”.
The school claims the equity training is an effort to build “an inclusive, equitable, accessible and affirming learning and working environment for all students and staff”, but also explains that “only white people could be racist”.
SPS puts its staff in the no-win situation of wondering if they should say what they really think (at the risk of being asked to leave), repeat what they think the district wants to hear (in conflict with their own beliefs), or not speak at all (at the risk of being labeled a white supremacist)