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Holladay Journal

SBOs from Granite District high schools create an anti-slur campaign

May 08, 2023 10:45AM ● By Peri Kinder

Student body officers from Taylorsville, Cyprus, Olympus, Granger, Skyline, Kearns, Hunter and Cottonwood high schools created a video to address slurs and derogatory language at school. Several SBOs attended a Granite District board meeting to present the video to board members. (Photo courtesy of Granite School District)

Student body officers from the eight Granite District high schools came together to create an anti-slur campaign, sharing the message that words have power. With help from district leaders, SBOs from Taylorsville, Cyprus, Olympus, Granger, Skyline, Kearns, Hunter and Cottonwood high schools created and launched the video “Stand Together, Speak Out, Make a Difference.”

The video invites viewers to walk in someone else’s shoes to see how slurs, derogatory language and hurtful words have an impact on individuals. 

During the April 11 Granite District school board meeting, the SBOs were recognized for their work on the video and the efforts they have made at their schools to bring about inclusion, acceptance and change. 

“It was so fun to have the district reach out to us. We had a big part in coming up with a lot of the script, which was super cool,” said Skyline Student Body President Max Stewart. “We thought this was such a fantastic idea and a message that really needed to be heard.”

Student leaders shared their own experiences being targeted because of their culture, heritage or skin color. They thanked the district for its action in bringing attention to the problem and hope the video starts conversations to foster respect and understanding.

The campaign inspired the SBOs to create programs in their own schools to further the message. Olympus High introduced Kindness Week, where students were encouraged to demonstrate acts of kindness to the school community. Cottonwood High SBOs started the “Acceptance Starts with U” campaign to encourage empathy and kindness. 

“Obviously, Cottonwood is one of the more diverse schools and due to that there’s also more racism, which is kind of hard to say, but it’s a reality,” said Cottonwood High Student Body President Jario Licona.

While many slurs and comments can be obviously hurtful, many microaggressions often go unaddressed. The Harvard Business Review defines microaggression as “When someone says or does something that feels hostile or offensive to some aspect of our identity, and the person doesn’t even realize it.”

Microaggression includes phrases like, “What country are you really from?” or “Don’t be so sensitive” or “I don’t see color.” The anti-slur video encourages students to take responsibility for their actions and words and understand the importance of speaking up when hearing or witnessing derogatory comments. It also demonstrates the importance of developing empathy by showing kindness and compassion. 

The Stand Together, Speak Out, Make a Difference video is available on YouTube. 

“I want to express how proud I am of this group,” said Granite School District Superintendent Rich Nye. “When we meet with our SBOs, we are talking about those issues of importance for our students as they’re occurring in our schools, and then they leverage their leadership to make that effective change. When we think of bullying and harassment and discrimination in our schools, there’s simply no place for it.” λ