Diversity and Inclusion
The issue of racism and intolerance continues to plague our nation. Despite great progress in our history, racism clings to us, refusing to fade away easily. It is insidious and sinful, an affront to our relationships with one another and with God. Unfortunately, its ubiquity means this inequality towards our fellow brothers and sisters can be found in varying degrees within all aspects of society, even our beloved school. Archbishop Gregory Hartmayer acknowledged the existence of racism in our diocese in his March 31, 2021 statement: “As your shepherd, I confess and own the fact that racism exists both individually and structurally in our own archdiocesan Chancery, in our parishes and in our schools.” Fortunately, that will not be the end of our story; instead, we are resolved to confront this injustice and root it out from our community.
The mission of St. Pius X Catholic High School is clear: every student deserves to thrive mentally, physically, and spiritually within our halls. Every student deserves to go through all four years of high school knowing they are equally loved, respected, cherished, fostered, and challenged. No one should feel that they are less important than their classmates. Racism threatens to undo this mission, but we will not allow it. As it does with all violations of the intrinsic dignity of the human person, racism threatens our mission and we will not allow it. This commitment is made very clear in our student handbook:
Catholic teaching prohibits actions which violate respect for the dignity of the human person. Actions considered by the school to violate this respect, including those of a demeaning, harassing, derogatory, racist, or discriminatory nature, whether communicated by word or deed, in-person or electronically, by gesture, image or in any other manner, will result in disciplinary action, which may include suspension and/or expulsion from school. Parents or guardians are to support this guideline in their relationships with school employees, students and their families; failure to do so may result in the parents being asked to withdraw their children from the school.
- Regulations for Student Conduct, p. 67
The 2019-2020 school year saw the acceleration of our efforts to eradicate racism and renew our commitment to live out our mission more fully, including:
- Formation of the Diverse Voices group, composed of families of color, to bring diversity issues before the Administration.
- Formation of Compassion Professional Learning Community, a group of teachers and administrators who continue to strategize methods for improving diversity and equity within our school.
- Welcoming students of color to present an in-depth account to faculty and staff of their experiences at Pius, emphasizing areas that need particular reform.
- Creating a Diverse Student Union club dedicated to celebrating all races and ethnicities.
- Discussions of racial issues pertinent to our school and society in classrooms.
The 2020-2021 school year started with hybrid classroom attendance due to COVID-19, but that did not preclude us from moving forward with further actions to address how we as a community could improve our relationships with one another. During pre-planning, our teachers gathered in small groups to discuss inherent biases and how not to succumb to their inclinations.
Continued Efforts and Steps Forward
Our efforts to tackle racism continue wholeheartedly. This will always be an on-going task; it is not something “completed” and “checked off” a to-do list.
The diversity of our faculty and staff grew this school year as approximately 22% of new, incoming employees are people of color. Through our extensive searches for new employees, we will do our best to ensure we are a beacon for the most qualified candidates, from energetic novices with great potential to seasoned professionals. Most importantly, we want faculty and staff who understand that “we are the Lord’s” in all that we do.
In terms of student life, we have given serious weight to our Honor Code by placing any actions or words of intolerance or racism under its jurisdiction. Our Diversity Statement is now part of our Honor Code and reflects the same commitment stated the school’s handbook:
Our core commitment to the Gospel shapes our expectation for moral behavior inside and outside the classroom. We celebrate the gift of diversity and work to foster charity and inclusion in all we do. Any speech or action in violation of this commitment is contrary to the Church’s teaching and to the mission of SPX and will not be tolerated.
These sorts of violations are an affront to human dignity and honor and run contrary to the Gospel message at the heart of our school.
Our Action Plan for the Future
We are carefully listening to our community as we move forward, and as we do so, the next steps are coming into focus, including:
- Continued teacher training on diversity and recognizing microaggressions.
- Installing new signage that reminds students and faculty of our pride in a diverse community.
- Amending the student handbook to stress our commitment to addressing violations of the dignity of all persons consistently and justly.
- Developing a Diversity Statement, drafted by our Compassion PLC and Chaplain, which is included in the Honor Code and on the back of each student’s and faculty’s ID.
- Renewing our commitment to Compassion PLC under the name “Journeying Together” and in the spirit of the USCCB’s “Open Wide Our Hearts.”
- Making a thorough and on-going examination of curricula to ensure people of color are represented in a respectful manner.
A Stronger St. Pius X Community
As we grow as a family and wrestle with the aspects of human nature which attempt to tear us away from each other and the mission of St. Pius X, more steps will be implemented. We may also find that the steps listed here may be adjusted or enriched if we find other efforts may bring about more progress. We have heard the stories and listened to the experiences of our students and alumni to date and welcome the opportunity to hear more, allowing them to assist us in faithfully following the Gospel as we move forward. Students must be encouraged to understand that they, too, must be a part of this solution. Students must hold each other accountable for their behavior and language, while the faculty and administration do the same. It is also important for students to speak up and report incidents in a timely manner so they can be quickly and effectively addressed.
But no matter the circumstance, we must all remember that our Catholic faith calls us not to “cancel” those in this world who might hurt us. Our school is one of the primary means by which our students can participate in restorative justice.