by Sheila Qualls
About 100 students at Farmington High School walked out of class Wednesday in protest of an assistant principal who admonished her colleagues for their “straight, white privilege,” parents told Alpha News.
An email from Vice Principal Laura Wagner was circulated among parents and students this week. In the email, she encouraged admin to use their “straight, white privilege” to support a new gender-neutral homecoming court.
Wagner’s email read:
“I chatted with Tiffany Fearing about homecoming a bit and wanted to talk a bit about what our presence looks like at the parade and coronation as we switch to royalty instead of kind and queen … Per usual we have some keyboard warriors who are making Tiffany concerned about student wellbeing. I think her concerns are valid, and I want to make sure we show up for our students.
This would be a great time to use your straight, white privilege to reassure and support students and staff in doing what they believe is right for our school community.”
The superintendent’s office confirmed the email was sent to a “small group of people” in the high school administration during this week’s homecoming festivities.
“We are aware of an email that was sent to a small number of staff regarding the Farmington High School homecoming parade and coronation which is now circulating publicly. This email has impacted our community and high school learners in many different ways. Farmington High School is providing various spaces and counseling staff to support learners as they process these recent events. Please know this personnel matter is being addressed, and as such there is no further information we can share,” Superintendent Jason Berg said in a message to parents.
One student who helped organize the walkout said students were “pretty hyped about” the email.
“I’m at school to learn, not to get political views,” he said, adding that he believes all students are equal.
“You’re only allowed to speak your mind if you agree with the administration,” he continued.
“Wagner is acting like you should be ashamed if you’re straight and white,” said Scott Duellman, a parent of Farmington students. “It’s like she’s saying, ‘You should be ashamed if you don’t stand in our corner,’” he said.
Duellman acknowledged some of the “terrible history” in America but said we should stop the divisive language and move forward.
“We’re past slavery. I was not a part of that. My parents were immigrants. I had nothing to do with it. My kids had nothing to do with it. Yes, this is America, and we’re white. But we shouldn’t be ashamed of something I can’t control,” he said.
Several parents said the change to the court was mandated by administration.
“We live in a republic. The majority is supposed to dictate. We’re letting the few dictate. The students felt strongly enough about it to walk out,” Duellman said.
The traditional homecoming court, which consisted of a king and queen, is being replaced by the term “royalty.” In years past the court consisted of 10 girls and 10 boys. This year’s “non-binary” court consists of 16 boys and six girls, parents said.
Several parents who spoke to Alpha News, who asked to remain anonymous, said Wagner is using her authority to push her agenda, and she should leave politics out of the classroom.
“School should be about education. They are supposed to be educating our kids, not pushing their personal agenda,” a parent said.
Another parent said her daughter called home after the email became public to express her disappointment and report that students had begun chanting about Wagner in the halls.
Some parents said their biggest concern is not the homecoming court but Wagner’s divisive language.
They believe schools should focus on education instead of pushing political agendas.
One mother said she attended a homecoming event and felt the tension in the room.
“I understand they made the changes so non-binary students can have a chance. Everyone has a right to be on homecoming court; however, they are catering to a small group of students,” one parent said.
Wagner was one of 162 principals statewide who signed the “Good Trouble” pledge in 2020, which aims to “decenter whiteness” in school structures.
“How are we supposed to move forward in this society where admin thinks it’s OK to use that type of language?” another parent said. “My concern is they are creating a bigger gap than a bridge, and they are accomplishing the opposite of what they are trying to do.”
Alpha News reached out to Farmington High School for comment but did not receive a response.
– – –
Sheila Qualls is an award-winning journalist and former civilian editor of an Army newspaper. Prior to joining Alpha News, she was a Christian Marriage and Family columnist at Patheos.com and a personal coach. Her work has been published in The Upper Room, the MOPS blog, Grown and Flown, and The Christian Post. She speaks nationally on issues involving faith and family.
Photo “Farmington High School” by FHS Tigers Activities.