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Hamilton Southeastern Schools adds ‘microaggressions’ to student handbook

FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) — A new addition to the Hamilton Southeastern Schools student handbook has the community divided.

The school added “microaggressions” to the student handbook.

Some parents believe it was a necessary addition. Others think it could create more problems.

“Microaggressions” can be defined as everyday, subtle, intentional or unintentional interactions or behaviors that communicate some sort of bias toward historically marginalized groups.

School leaders say students asked that it be added to the handbook.

The added paragraph has created a big discussion.

Paul Hevesy has children who have graduated from HSE and kids who currently attend. He says he feels the addition is unnecessary, and the school should be worried about other issues.

“For a school that’s been top 5 10, 15, 12 years ago, and now barely holding on to 17th or 18th in the rankings, really seems like an unnecessary move by a school board that should be focused on academics,” Hevesy said.

Bethann Buddenbaum has two adopted daughters from China. They’ve both graduated high school, but, she says, they’ve dealt with microaggressions on a regular basis.

“Questions about ‘Do you eat dog or cat?’ Sometimes that was used in a not-so-nice way, and sometimes it was an honest question that wasn’t understood. So, being able to bring those conversations to light, that’s just adulting,” Buddenbaum said.

News 8 reached out to the school district to see why microaggression was added to the handbook. The district sent a statement.

“Our mission at Hamilton Southeastern is to provide our more than 21,000 students an academically challenging education while also preparing them for the future. We believe it is important to ensure our students are prepared for the ever-changing real world and how to navigate successfully in this new environment in which we all operate. The recent update to our student handbook provides staff the opportunity to hold restorative conversations about how an intentional or unintentional interaction that communicates some kind of bias between students can be effectively addressed.”

Lilli Hazard has a high school senior in the district. She says the school has no place in discussing social issues.

“It was disheartening when I went into a high school teachers’ classroom and saw BLM (Black Lives Matter) posters, for instance. That’s not a place for schools. Let’s teach the kids what they need to do and need to know in order to be successful in whatever careers they move into. Let’s not focus on the activism, let’s not focus on microaggression,” Hazard said.

Buddenbaum says she believes it’s that attitude that is exactly why something like this should have been added.

“I think that validates students’ experiences because those are lived and shared experiences, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with saying, ‘We value you enough that we will have these conversations,’” Buddenbaum said.