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Southington school board investigating controversial vocab list

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HARTFORD, Conn. (WFSB) – One Southington teacher is being questioned about a worksheet that has upset some students and parents.

A three page packet was handed out to a Southington high school English class earlier this week.

There is controversy over the paper, that has language like cisgender, marginalization, transgender, and white privilege.

School board members say it wasn’t brought to their attention.

“It’s troubling to me. I read the worksheet. Do I agree with it? Absolutely not,” said Joseph Baczewski, Board Vice Chairperson.

“We shouldn’t have to talk or treat black people, or people of color, as the packet says, differently because of their skin color. If my friend is a person of color, I will treat them the exact same way everyone else gets treated and I expect the same in return,” said Ella Perillo, 10th grade Southington High School student.

Another woman spoke at the Board of Education meeting tonight, whose daughter is the one who brought the issue up to begin with.

“We are a Puerto Rican family and we have family members, some that are darker, some that are lighter,” said Jenny Cinquemani.

She says she doubts the teacher meant for it to be hurtful, but it was divisive and worksheets like this shut down the conversation of how race and ethnicity are approached in schools.

“Some of the social disparities that do exist, whether people want to acknowledge them or not, they are real. Jim Crow laws are not so far removed from our history. There are people still alive in this country who experience that. So I think it is important to set some rules about how you engage in the classroom when you are touching on these difficult subjects,” said Jenny.

This is not the first time Southington public schools have dealt with something like this.

“For all of the crap going on in the world right now, this is it? The first week of school to start off negatively. It’s troublesome,” said Baczewski.

Jenny encouraged the school board to think about how they approach subjects of diversity, equity and inclusion with their teachers.

“There are ways to approach these difficult conversations and this was definitely not it,” said Jenny.

There is an investigation into this incident and Channel 3 is waiting to hear back from the Connecticut Education Association.