24 K-12 Schools Named Social Justice Beacons By Arizona’s Anti-Defamation League

May 30, 2022

By Corinne Murdock |

Earlier this month, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of Arizona recognized 24 K-12 schools throughout the state as “No Place For Hate” (NPFH) participants.

There are four required steps to qualifying as a NPFH school: register, create a NPFH committee, sign the NPFH Pledge, and complete at least three school-wide NPFH activities. An additional recommended step for schools concerns engaging in “A World of Difference” anti-bias and allyship workshops.

Despite the ADL’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity, NPFH campaigns may alienate certain classes of students and educators — such as Christians.

According to the ADL, a valid NPFH committee “include[s] students, staff, administrators, and family members that reflect the diversity of the school community.” They are tasked with identifying bias and bullying within their school and host activities to right those identified wrongs. 

Variations of the required pledge exist, and they usually differ between elementary and middle or high schools. For elementary schools, one form of the pledge reads as follows:

I promise to do my best to treat everyone fairly. I promise to do my best to be kind to everyone — even if they are not like me. If I see someone being hurt or bullied, I will tell a teacher. Everyone should be able to feel safe and happy in school. I want our school to be No Place for Hate.

Most versions of the pledge for middle and high schools include more social justice concepts. One example is reproduced below:

I will seek to gain understanding of those who are different from myself. I will speak out against prejudice and discrimination. I will reach out to support those who are targets of hate. I will promote respect for people and help foster a prejudice-free school. I believe that one person can make a difference — no person can be an ‘innocent’ bystander when it comes to opposing hate. I recognize that respecting individual dignity and promoting inter-group harmony are the responsibilities of all students.

And another:

I pledge from this day forward to do my best to combat prejudice and to stop those who, because of hate or ignorance, would hurt anyone or violate their civil rights. I will try at all times to be aware of my own biases and seek to gain understanding of those who I perceive as being different from myself. I will speak out against all forms of prejudice and discrimination. I will reach out to support those who are targets of hate. I will think about specific ways my community members can promote respect for people and create a prejudice free zone. I firmly believe that one person can make a difference and that no person can be an “innocent” bystander when it comes to opposing hate. I recognize that respecting individual dignity, achieving equality and promoting intergroup harmony are the responsibilities of all people. By signing this pledge, I commit myself to creating a respectful community.

Valid NPFH activities that count toward the three needed to qualify the school must be preapproved by the national ADL and tackle bias, prejudice, stereotypes, discrimination, social justice, inclusion, diversity, name-calling, or bullying. 

The World of Difference workshops include programs for students titled “Becoming An Ally: Interrupting Name Calling and Bullying,” “Peer Leadership,” “Peer Training,” and “General Anti-Bias Training.” For the most part, each workshop engages in concepts like prejudice, bigotry, diversity, inclusivity, and equity. 

Those steps are required, but there are a plethora of other activities and workshops offered to educators and students vying for NPFH recognition. In June and July, the ADL is hosting a month-long “anti-bias” course for teachers to learn how to eliminate bias while making “equitable and inclusive classrooms.”

The 24 Arizona schools certified as NPFH schools were: C.I. Waggoner Elementary, Desert Meadows, Eagle Ridge Elementary School, Emerson School, Horizon Honors Elementary School, Whittier Elementary, Kyrene de las Manitas, Kyrene del Cielo, Kino Junior High School, Cocopah Middle School, Cooley Middle School, Desert Canyon Middle School, Greenway Middle School, Shea Middle School, Vista Verde Middle School, Dobson High School, Higley High School, Mountain View High School, North High School, Red Mountain High School, Verrado High School, Trailside Performing Arts Academy, New Way Academy, and Rancho Solano Preparatory School.

Centennial Middle School received an honorable mention. 

The 24 schools will receive a customized banner designating them as a NPFH school for this year.

Cocopah Middle School’s principal required teachers to attend a training on supporting and affirming LGBTQ+ lifestyles in children, and where they established a Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA) Club that won an award for coercing the district to allow students to replace their given, or “deadname,” with a preferred name matching their gender identity. GSAs may also stand for Gay-Straight Alliance.

There are over 1,800 schools nationwide who qualify as NPFH.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

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