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The student news site of Londonderry High School

Lancer Spirit Online

The student news site of Londonderry High School

Lancer Spirit Online

LHS Speak Up Day sparks unwarranted criticism on social media

Editorials represent the opinion of the Lancer Spirit Editorial Board. (Logo created by Melina Illinger)

After a year of hard work and planning by the students and staff on the Social Emotional Learning Committee (SEL), Lancers Speak-Up Day came to fruition this past Tuesday, May 16.

In the last few days, however, there have been multiple posts on social media, which have begun to spread misinformation about what took place at this event and what the purpose of this day was. Since we attended the event, we wanted to make sure the facts about the Challenge Day assembly and the events that followed were clearly communicated to avoid further confusion.

The day began with a 90-minute school assembly featuring two speakers from the Challenge Day organization who spoke about mental health, emphasizing the importance of being kind to others. According to the Challenge Day Website, “Challenge Day is on a mission to create a world where every person in our communities feels safe, loved and celebrated.”  

The overarching message was to encourage students to be kind and to not judge others, because we never know what someone else may be going through. 

After the assembly, students were then dismissed to play field games, visit mental health resource booths, and spend time with therapy animals. Students spent this portion of the day away from devices and classrooms, and learned valuable life lessons regarding relationships and emotions.

One complaint on social media was that academics were interrupted because of this day. 

Yes, classes were shortened to allow time for the assembly and the other mental health awareness activities. But isn’t the mental health of students just as important (some could argue even more important) as academic content? According to a January 2023 article from the American Psychology Association, “kids’ mental health is in crisis.”  With this in mind, we would argue spending a few hours away from “traditional” academics to learn about bettering our social-emotional health might actually help us be more successful in school.

Another complaint was about the exercise the Challenge Day speakers led, which was asking students and staff to stand up if they related to a certain situation they described either first hand or as a peer—such as if they had ever been bullied, or seen a loved one suffer with an illness. This was a completely voluntary exercise, and no one had to stand up if they didn’t want to. If someone did stand up, then it wasn’t necessarily for themselves, but because they knew someone else who had experienced whatever the topic was. The idea was to be able to see that there are other people at LHS who may be experiencing the same issues as someone else. That no one needs to feel alone.

On several posts and comments on social media, people stated they felt these activities were indoctrinating students regarding LGBTQ+ issues. We do understand how people would be frustrated if they thought students were indeed being influenced to adhere to values and beliefs different from their family’s. Of course that would be upsetting. 

But that is not what took place. 

Out of the multitude of questions asked in the Challenge Day exercise, only two or three had any relation to LGBTQ+ topics, and those questions were about potential experiences with bullying due to being a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Other questions asked students to stand if they or anyone they knew had ever been bullied or judged based on gender, weight, disability, etc.

Another post seen on recent social media was a concern that the Challenge Day organization handed out pride flags to students. This was not the case.

One of the stations located in the outside portion of Speak Up Day was filled with booths representing clubs from LHS as well as from community mental health organizations. One student-run club that had a booth was the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA)

At this booth, students could choose to grab a pride flag if they wanted to. They could also take a page with resources for LGBTQ+ students with information on who to contact in times of need, specifically relating to issues with suicide and other mental health related crisis. According to the CDC, while one in three teens suffer from mental illness, suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among adolescents. These numbers then increase dramatically among LGBTQ+ youth, who are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers. The GSA booth offered resources for those teens and for the allies of those teens.

Lancers Speak Up Day was an event focusing on breaking the mental health stigma across the school community and shedding light on resources the school and community offers. There was no “LGBTQ+  agenda” or “indoctrinating kids.” Lancers Speak Up Day was an event with the mission of allowing all students and staff at LHS to feel seen, heard and not alone.

So please—before you post something online about something that took place at one of the Londonderry schools, find out the facts first. Call or email a school administrator and ask questions. Don’t just assume. 

And to those community members who posted factual, positive posts in defense of what most of us thought was a pretty special day, we sincerely thank you. 

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  • M

    Mama Bear
    May 24, 2023 at 7:37 am

    Incredibly proud of the students who wrote this. May this bravery and passion to stand up for what is right and for you believe is right carry you throughout your life and serve you with self-assurance and fortitude.

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LHS Speak Up Day sparks unwarranted criticism on social media