On behalf of the Boston Teachers Union, the Boston Public Schools Office of Equity, and the Boston Public Schools Office of the Opportunity and Achievement Gap, we are pleased to share the recently released, “Guidelines for the Use of Offensive Terms in the Classroom.” When a classroom discussion includes the use of or reference to offensive terms, application of these guidelines is strongly encouraged.
As stated in the guidelines, outside of carefully planned classroom discussions rooted in thoughtful educational objectives, the Boston Public Schools does not tolerate the use of slurs or other offensive terms. Offensive terms should never be used unless there is a compelling instructional purpose.
While studying the breadth of history and literature sometimes requires exposure to the worst of human behavior and language, educating students regarding that behavior and language requires deliberate planning and execution. These guidelines aim to provide you with assistance in ensuring that references to offensive terms are constructive, respectful, and do not result in actual or perceived acts of bias.
These guidelines are not intended to stifle or interfere with academic freedom, nor to censor or discourage the vital and sometimes uncomfortable conversations that lead to our deepest learnings as young people and adults. We offer this memo as an effort to give helpful guidelines. The guidelines are not district policy (e.g. an Equity circular), and therefore an instructor’s choice not to adhere to these suggestions will not by itself provide grounds for employee discipline. See the guidelines.