The word marginalized, having gained recent importance in the 21st century according to the Google ‘mentions’ chart for the word, means to “treat (a person, group, or concept) as insignificant or peripheral.” The community at KO, while seen as an accepting place, has been a place where the marginalization of various groups occurs.
These groups are not necessarily being marginalized by the KO community itself or the school administration; in fact, the KO administrative team has done a fantastic job attempting to minimize all possible marginalization that may occur on campus.
Clubs such as the Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) and Orange is the New Grey exist for students who are members of these societal marginalized groups to come together, allowing these students a safe environment where they can speak freely about relevant issues.
As a proud conservative and seven-year student at KO, I have never felt the privilege of being a member of this aforementioned environment: a safe place where I could speak freely about relevant issues. Throughout my time at KO, I have been a member of an environment that is quite the contrary.
When I was in middle school at KO, I began to discover my conservative views. Luckily, I had the opportunity to learn from a great group of history teachers who never brought their personal biases into the classroom. I still cannot even begin to guess their political leanings to this day. This is the type of learning and the type of environment that I wish would be fostered at KO, where there is not a right or a wrong way to think. This type of environment empowers students to have true intellectual diversity.
Through various commissioned assemblies and diversity workshops during my middle school and early high school years, I began to hide my conservative views. Every speaker that has been chosen to come to KO, be it an English symposium author or a diversity day speaker, clearly has expressed liberal views. The KO administration clearly has no qualms with these speakers, not even bringing in a speaker with a somewhat opposing view once in my seven years at this school. This sort of selection for speakers and prior diversity assemblies does not promote civil discourse and intellectual diversity when the school administration is clearly in support of one side of the argument.
Entering high school, I began to notice that every teacher that I was learning from had a similar liberal viewpoint. While some tried hard to keep their political leanings hidden, some went on rants bashing conservatives and President Trump. I sat silently in the classroom when this happened, afraid to say something that would challenge someone responsible for grading my tests. I was also afraid of writing my conservative beliefs on paper, often writing as though I was a liberal at times. I created sentences on vocabulary quizzes that would bash President Trump because I knew that when I did, the teacher would draw a little smiley face next to it and I would almost always receive full credit.
My true conservative views could not be expressed. I had been treated as “insignificant or peripheral” by the KO community and was the true victim of marginalization. This type of marginalization was different than that members of the LGBTQ community and females were facing; it occurred within our very own community. Bigoted members of our community roam freely, being allowed to have “intolerance for those who hold different opinions from oneself”.
At the beginning of this year, I officially decided that I would publicly express my views as a conservative and finally form a club at KO where these marginalized students could discuss topics in a safe environment. Many liberal students supported me in my creation of KO Conservative Diversity, which made me very excited about finally being able to express my opinions.
Sadly, through friends, I found out that students, some who are leaders and active members of social justice clubs claiming to “make sure all perspectives are heard”, were personally attacking me on social media. People who do this sort of thing to fellow classmates are simply bigots. These attacks occurred because I expressed my opinion to have a conservative club on campus, in an attempt to create a safe environment for a marginalized group. Conservative students are, quite possibly, the most marginalized group within the KO community, being consistently treated as “insignificant or peripheral” by teachers, administrators, and fellow students. The marginalization of such a large group of students by an entire school community will not encourage civil discourse to occur, in fact, it will only foster bigotry. I believe that we need change and that this change can come from every member of the KO community working hand in hand, in hopes of creating a truly diverse environment where no students feel marginalized the way that I have.