On April 19th, Fox News aired a segment with a focus on Langley High School and faculty titled “Reading, Writing, and Inciting,” in which Fox opinion host Laura Ingraham asserted that “public schools are just as bad” as private schools when it comes to the “Marxist indoctrination” of students. Ingraham specifically discussed a lesson presented to Langley students on microaggressions, which was part of a year-long advisory course called Langley Links instituted this school year to accommodate acceptance, inclusiveness, and student welfare at Langley. While Ingraham is entitled to her own opinion, the misinformation in the piece paints Langley High School in an inaccurate political light.
As last school year drew to a close, students expressed concern that Langley High School had ignored the xenophobia often plaguing its halls. Langley had become a bubble in which students were shielded from the modern-day struggles of minorities.
“Last spring, we heard a lot about what happened at Langley that needed to change, and as a staff, we came together to begin the process of having those difficult discussions in order to make everyone at Langley feel like they belong,” Langley’s School-Based Technology Specialist and Langley Links Committee member Dr. Lindsey Fisher said.
The result was an FCPS mandated session that became known as Langley Links. The class is a place to check in with a teacher-mentor and discuss topics such as mental health, time management, and inclusivity to provide students with insight on how they should manage school life. The goal of Langley Links is to foster cultural inclusion and create an environment where students feel safe to express their ideas and diverse backgrounds. Although meetings can feel somewhat uncomfortable at first, they encourage unexplored dialogue among classmates that strengthen the Langley community.
Ingraham’s Fox News segment was in regards to a recent Langley Links lesson about microaggressions, which are unintentional actions that discriminate against culturally marginalized groups. While some students expressed distaste at being called out for their actions as microaggressions, for the execution of the lesson, most agreed that the intent was benevolent and the topic of the lesson was essential for all students. Lessons like this have the purpose of informing students about attitudes and behaviors that some may find discriminatory or offensive in order to inspire empathy and acceptance.
Last Tuesday’s lesson did this via a survey on microaggressions intended to create conversation. Some of the examples listed in the lesson are “refer[ring] to the Coronavirus as the China virus,” thinking “Asian peers are really good at math,” and others. While some examples listed in the survey were somewhat of a stretch— including “look[ing] at or reply[ing] to messages on my phone when I am with others”—Ingraham chose to ridicule the lesson instead of taking the time to research the impact of microaggressions and understand the survey as a whole. She mockingly said that if a student has done any of those things, “that could be considered a microaggression.” She followed by laughing and saying “if that wasn’t bad enough, students were then told to watch videos” about bias.
Instead of contacting Langley students, teachers, and families, Ingraham deliberately misconstrued what Langley students were learning to advance a political narrative that devalues the importance of the issue and portrays an inaccurate representation of Langley High School. The microaggression lesson, as well as similar Langley Links lessons, are purely about creating more global citizens – there is no political agenda. The trivialization of what many experience as everyday reality is not just irresponsible, it also works to erase any progress that Langley’s efforts have made to make those who feel marginalized more at home in the Langley community.
“People at Langley are hardworking, ambitious people ready to change the world, and I love that about Langley,” Fisher said. “I think the vast majority of students and staff at Langley are committed to [fighting] against discrimination of all kinds and learning more about their role in combating intolerance. I’ve been so proud of the growth I’ve seen in the last year as far as students and staff being willing to take risks and express themselves.”
Since their freshman year of high school, Langley students have been taught the “4 C’s”, which are “Care, Connect, Celebrate, so we can Commence.” This acronym is a perfect example of the work Ms. Greer and her staff do to teach their students to be better advocates for themselves and those around them. Langley Links is especially focused on the “care” aspect of this acronym as it was created to ensure students’ cognitive health and awareness of the environment at Langley and beyond.
Langley is doing its best to unify the student body in preparation for the outside world and the conflicts that may arise. When lessons feel unreasonable, it is important to reflect on where the invalidation stems from and consider a different path forward. It is unjust to judge the staff of Langley after distorting a misguided lesson when the class’s sole intention is to instill empathy in students and leave the Langley community cognizant of crucial social issues.