Last week a group of high school seniors from Southern California used letter T-shirts to spell out "fags" and the n word in photographs, causing viewers to wonder if they need a tolerance class.
\u201cStudents at @ehscougars wore shirts to spell out \u201cFAGS\u201d and racial slurs. While I\u2019m saddened, I can\u2019t say I\u2019m surprised. I grew up in Escondido and went to @OrangeGlen, their neighboring school. I was bullied constantly. https://t.co/BdkjLmYoin\u201d
The photographs were taken last Thursday during an Escondido High School picnic where students wear T-shirts with large letters to spell out preapproved words for a senior photo. However, 10 students chose to spell out homophobic and racist terms with their friends and post photos of the act on Snapchat and Instagram, reports San Diego's KGTV.
Soon after, classmates and alumni captured screen shots of the posts and made them public.
High school administrators say they are taking disciplinary action. Escondido police announced Monday they would not.
"I want to assure you that actions have been taken and students are receiving consequences; however, specifics must remain confidential," the school's principal, Adriana Lepe-Ramirez, wrote in a statement. "We believe the lessons to be learned need to, and can, far exceed a period of punishment."
Classmates told Buzzfeed News that actions taken against the culprits included suspension, ejection from after-school activities, and being barred from walking at graduation.
Lepe-Ramirez also addressed the incident over the school intercom Friday.
"In light of yesterday's incident, I'd like to address you all and express my sadness and disappointment in the choices that were made during the Senior Barbeque," she announced. "I understand that the messages that were posted on social media incited anger and frustration, but I want to encourage you all to remember that the only thing that combats hate is love, the only thing that combats divisiveness is unity. ... We cannot allow the poor choices of others to take away from who we are and what we represent as a school and as a community."
Other students have come forward to say that the hateful message is not representative of the community.
"Racism is definitely not a problem at our high school," Nyla McGlory told Buzzfeed News. "A few students decided to spell out some dumb stuff to be funny in the moment, I guess, but that's not us or what most of us believe. Nothing like this has ever really happened before."
"I am scared to go back to school, but I am going to try and show people that's not who I really am because that's for sure not who I want to be," one of the students who posed for the homophobic and racist photos told the Free Hugs Project. "I want to show people that's not right. I've learned from my mistakes."