Community learns about racist, transphobic stickers one month after being plastered around campus

Students question school’s delayed response to the incident

Many+of+these+racist+and+transphobic+stickers+were+plastered+around+campus+in+late+March.+It+wasn%27t+until+a+month+later+that+students+and+parents+were+informed+about+the+incident.

Many of these racist and transphobic stickers were plastered around campus in late March. It wasn’t until a month later that students and parents were informed about the incident.

Sienna Morgan and Saachi Sharma

Two unidentified individuals stuck nearly 100 racist, transphobic, and antisemitic stickers around Cal High’s campus on March 24, according to DanvilleSanRamon.com.

Many students were shocked and horrified when they found out about the stickers – more than a month later when school administrators finally informed them of the incident.

Although the stickers were immediately removed, school and district administrators failed to notify students until there was more outrage and controversy surrounding the situation. On April 29, more than a month later, school administrators finally emailed a letter to parents acknowledging what had happened and apologizing for their late reply.

The letter, signed by Principal Megan Keefer and three assistant principals, also explained steps that had been taken in regards to the hateful stickers, including a handbook that was created to help staff take proper actions to react to any discriminatory incidents in the future. The handbook will be released before the start of the 2021-2022 school year. 

“The school didn’t communicate this situation with us right away, and I’m still not 100 percent sure why,” sophomore Elena Town said. “I doubt they purposefully hid the incident from us to avoid backlash from students, but it’s still ruminating in the back of my mind. My hope is that staff are legitimately attempting to protect Cal High students, not just trying to avoid confrontation.”

Keefer followed up the letter to parents with an email to students about a forum on May 7 that would give students the chance to have their voices heard regarding the incident. Administrators wanted to hear how the stickers affected them personally along with what staff could do to better meet the students’ needs.

“I think that the school handled the situation appropriately with the email/letter they sent, but why did it take them a whole month to send something out?” freshman Isabella Kelleter added. “I don’t know if they were aware of these stickers when they were up, or if it took students to speak up and share how they felt for them to write that letter.”

Students who saw the stickers were shaken by the hostility of the individuals who posted them.

“[A sticker with the Nazi SS bolts] makes me feel horrible,” Kelleter, who is Jewish, said. “I already have experienced antisemitism and have seen many people be antisemitic throughout the media and it doesn’t sit right with me.”

Although other students felt the same, many of them were not surprised by the incident.  

“Some students at Cal do have a tendency to say offensive words and expect to get away with it,” Town said. “It hurts when your supposed ‘safe space’ isn’t safe anymore.” 

There was a consistent theme of hatred throughout the colorful stickers. One sticker blamed African-Americans for crime rates in the United States. The “super straight” flag hung on a wall in sticker form, referring to a trend where people say they are so straight they will not date transgender people. 

A transgender flag sticker with a doge meme and the words “Your parents will use your real name when they bury you” was stuck on a wall. The SS bolts, a symbol of the Schutzstaffel paramilitary group in Nazi Germany that helped carry out the Holocaust, were prominent on a “super straight” sticker. 

For students that have transitioned out of their gender assigned at birth, seeing these stickers made them feel attacked for their identities.

“I know what it’s like to not feel comfortable at school after coming out and changing your name,” nonbinary senior Jude Lee said. “It’s already so hard to do that in general, but to see hate for it in a place where you’re supposed to be comfortable is upsetting.

“Because it was anonymously done I kind of was a bit afraid afterwards,” Lee continued. “Someone could be outwardly nice to me and do something like that and I would never know.”

Sophomore Michael Gracer responded to the incident by protesting in front of the administration building on May 7, pushing for Cal to take more steps to address the hateful stickers. 

“I don’t want to go to a school where the administration allows this to happen,” Gracer said.

Gracer said the protest started with him holding his own signs outside of the school. Some friends later arrived and held signs he made for them.

Keefer and athletic director Alphonso Powell came out of the administration building during the protest and met the students. They commended Gracer for his initiative and asked what he was protesting. 

“I said my demands, which are full transparency about future situations, an anti-racist curriculum, and diversifying our history and English curriculum,” Gracer said. 

Although administrators spoke to Gracer during his protest, assistant principal Tucker Farrar declined to be interviewed for this story. 

“We are holding off on this right now to wait for the dust to settle,” Farrar wrote in an email. 

But San Ramon Valley Unified School District Superintendent Dr. John Malloy did address the incident.

“We apologize that the situation was not promptly communicated to our school community,” Malloy told DanvilleSanRamon.com. “That was a mistake and we are very sorry. We want to be clear that we do not tolerate these types of incidents.

“We were not trying to hide anything,” he continued, “but we do fully understand this interpretation, which is why our district has clearly established an expectation of timely communication should an incident occur on campus in the future.”

Students such as Town hope this is the case.

“Administration proclaims their lack of tolerance for offensive and harmful behavior, but there must be action behind these words,” Town said.