School Cancels "Senorita Day" After Students Dress As Gang Members, Gardeners
New Course This Fall: Cultural Sensitivity 101
There's a time and place to make fun of stereotypes, but your school's Latino heritage celebration is probably not one of them. A high school in California has cancelled its "Señores and Señoritas Day" after several students showed up dressed as gardeners, gang members, border patrol agents and pregnant teenage girls.
Canyon High School in Anaheim Hills, California, has terminated the event -- in which students were encouraged to dress in Latino and Mexican-themed traditional clothing -- following complaints that many students wore outfits that promoted racist stereotypes.
"It was determined some students dressed in stereotypical fashion which was not appropriate, and that the actions of these students were demeaning," Orange Unified Superintendent Michael Christensen said Thursday in a written statement. "The district is committed to working with staff and students of Canyon High School to ensure a positive school climate and culture in all school activities."
"Señores and Señoritas Day" was held on June 6, but it wasn't until former student Jared Garcia-Kessler filed a complaint that the district began investigating.
"It was very offensive. It was demeaning to my culture," Garcia-Kessler said. "The school set it up as a day to celebrate Mexican culture, but some students thought it would be funny to go over the top. I just thought enough was enough."
Garcia-Kessler said the event was held in previous years and that students dressed inappropriately then as well. The costumes included ponchos and sombreros, fake mustaches, and gang members with fake tattoos of tear drops on their cheeks. Some students dressed as INS agents and went around "arresting Mexican students."
The school says it will now implement sensitivity training to its administrators and school activities promoting diversity and other cultures.