OPINION

Central York student speaks out on diversity book ban: 'Enough is enough'

Edha Gupta | Central York High School | 2:17 am EDT September 17, 2021
About 100 people participated in a rally outside the Central York Educational Service Center to protest the school board's failure to approve a social studies curriculum dealing with diversity.
Bill Kalina, 717-505-5449/@BillKalina

EDITOR'S NOTE: Edha Gupta is one of the organizers of student protests at Central York High School, where the school board handed down a teaching ban that specifically targeted creators of color. She writes about her experience in this guest editorial.

Recently, the Central York school board decided to ban a diversity resource list that would be accessible to teachers in classrooms.

The one common factor?

All of these books either include main characters of color or are written by people of color. 

This ban is not only an infringement on the education of all students growing up in this district — from kindergarteners to seniors — but also shows blatant disrespect for the students of color in this district, denying their experiences and ancestry a part in the curriculum. The students have had no voice in their own education, and I am an example.

More: Demonstrators rally against book ban at Central Admin

More: 'I don't feel welcome here': Central York dithers on diversity book ban

More: How do we get kids to care about racism? Ask Central York's school board

In March 2021, I sat down in many Zoom discussions with different members of the board. In these meetings, I was hopeful to lend a diplomatic perspective of my experiences with discrimination in this district, after their hurtful comments on diversity. I explained how more diversity education needs to be incorporated, especially in the elementary levels, and naively had hope for the future after those conversations.

View | 7 Photos

I also recommended that an African-American Studies course be offered to learners eager to learn about possibly their own, and their peers', history. It seemed as though those heavy, vulnerable conversations didn’t register. 

I found out in the beginning of this year that resources — most from the elementary schools — were banned. My shock, disappointment, and anger showed that the board — elected to act in the students' best interests — didn’t care about their students. Additionally, it took almost a full year from when discussion of this started to when students found out. 

Why were the students incapable of speaking up on their own education? Because of this ban, young children of color growing up in the second most diverse district in York will not be able to find someone like them in the library, they will be ignorant of their ancestry, and they will never feel like they belong in this central community, like I never did. I am standing for those soon Central graduates who are robbed of knowing themselves. 

Organizer and Central York High School student Edha Gupta holds a sign during a protest of the school's ban on books and other teaching materials by black and Hispanic authors during a rally outside the school Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021. The Panther Anti-Racist Union– a student organization–organized the protest which they say will occur daily until Sept. 13, the date of the next district school board meeting. Bill Kalina photo
Bill Kalina, The York Dispatch

School is a place for education and growth. Students come to school to discover new things about their communities and themselves. How does the board expect Central students to grow when they are educated on a semi-holistic understanding of the history of America?

The board is putting their comfort — their “wants'' — before the needs of their students.

After 12 years in this district, I am not going to stand down.

I am standing up so that young kids won’t have to face the same difficulty appreciating their roots and identity, like I did growing up Indian-American in this district.

I am standing with my student body every day through peaceful protests, interviews and advocacy.

This issue is not political, but moral, and I will not rest until I see the reversal  of this ban before this district becomes my alma mater.

Enough is enough, CYSD.

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