High School Students Assigned to Tabulate "Privilege" Due to Race, Gender, Sexuality, Religion
Add 25 points for being white or male, but deduct 100 points for being black and 500 for identifying as transgender.
Parents in the community of Saratoga Springs, New York are up in arms after a shocking assignment that asked students to tabulate their “privilege” by adding or subtracting points for their race, gender, religion, appearance, disability status, and other factors was given to students at a public high school.
The “Privilege Reflection Forms” were given to students in a business class at Saratoga Springs High School, apparently with the approval of school administrators who considered it a useful tool to enlighten students on their relative status in society. According to the worksheet provided, students were told to calculate how privileged they are by adding or subtracting sums for possessing different attributes.
For instance, Caucasian students completing the form are directed to add 25 points for being white, whereas African-American students are told to subtract 100 points for being black. Males are told to add 25 points whereas females are told to subtract 50 points. Nor does the lesson stop there. Straight students are told to add 20 points for the privilege they derive from that status, while gay students are told to subtract 150 points. And if a student identifies as transgender, they are supposed to deduct a whopping 500 points.
The offensiveness of the scoresheet only increases from there. Under a section on religion, Jewish students are instructed to add 25 points (apparently Jews are the most privileged religious group), and Christian students to add 5 points, but Muslim students are told to deduct 50 points—that is unless a student is both black and Jewish, in which case they should deduct 25 points, as a note on the assignment specifies. Students are also asked to rank their own appearance and add 10 points for having an attractive face, but to subtract 10 points if they are overweight and subtract 40 points if they are “disfigured.”
And then it gets even worse. A section of the form on “Disability” uses horrifically offensive and outdated language, asking students to add 25 points to their total for being “able-bodied” but to subtract 20 points for “social autism,” deduct another 30 points for being “immobile” and a full 50 points for being “retarded.”
A diagram at the bottom of the form explains that students who score from 50-100 should consider themselves “privileged” while those scoring in excess of 100 are “very privileged” and should “check it [their privileged status] daily.” By contrast, those scoring -100 or less are “very disprivileged”—if that’s even a word.
Parent Michelle King whose daughter received the scorecard in class called it “Absolutely offensive and appalling.”
“I cannot comprehend as a parent whose child, whose daughter, was handed this, how anyone can say this was acceptable,” King told a local news program.
Astoundingly, when questioned about the assignment, administrators at Saratoga Springs High School acknowledged that the offensive terminology should have been retracted, but refused to admit that the exercise as a whole was inappropriate.
School district spokeswoman Maura Manny said that the privilege scorecard had been discussed at a recent faculty meeting, along with other potential activities for students. Manny also released a prepared statement about the lesson which said “our school district continues to champion efforts fostering and facilitating growth in becoming a culturally competent school community.” It also highlighted the district’s belief in “equity of opportunity.”
A statement released by the school district claimed: “An unmodified version of the privilege reflection form was distributed to students without the removal of insensitive words. The district does not condone the use of the document with these insensitive words.” The school district’s statement notably did not condemn the exercise as a whole.
But parent Michelle King still has questions. “How did it get into the school, and how did the principal say it was acceptable?” she asks. For now, she is receiving no answers.
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