When the results of the presidential election left many New York City public school students and their families feeling vulnerable, educators across the city mobilized to participate in a Day of Action on Monday, Nov. 21 in support of an inclusive, diverse, safe and respectful environment for all students.
In scores of schools, UFT chapter leaders organized actions to affirm that every child, regardless of ethnic background, gender identity, faith or immigration status, can feel safe in New York City public schools. They took photos and shared them on social media. The UFT Facebook album featured photos (including those in this story) submitted by 71 schools.
In the days after the election, many people publicly donned safety pins as a means of expressing their willingness to stand up for immigrants, Muslims, members of the LGBT community and other marginalized groups. At PS/IS 109 and P 4 in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, staff members took a “safety pin pledge” to demonstrate their commitment to their students.
“I wear this pin because I pledge to continue creating a classroom environment that is safe and understanding for all my students,” wrote one teacher.
At PS 159 in Bayside, Queens, students wrote about the ways in which their school makes them feel safe. Their answers were arranged into a colorful peace sign.
Other schools honored the diversity of their student population. At Dos Puentes Elementary School in Washington Heights, Manhattan, teachers held flags representing the many countries from which their students originate. At PS 36 in Morningside Heights, Manhattan, staff members held American flags and signs that read “We Are All Welcome Here.”
Some chapters demonstrated unity by wearing a common color. In Far Rockaway, Queens, at the Academy of Medical Technology, teachers wore white.
“We wanted to let our students know that we are here to be a source of peace, strength, love and comfort for all of them,” said Chapter Leader Leslie Feliciano. “No matter what is going on in the world, our school is a safe haven and we are here to support and motivate our students.”