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This Illinois School District Offers Identity-Based ‘Affinity Groups’ for Students

Richard Alan Hannon/The Advocate via AP

Late last year, Education Week reported that schools across the country were creating “affinity groups” for students and for staff. These organizations, the outlet claimed, are “meant to be safe space for educators or students who share a common identity.” The outlet noted that many conservative groups argue that these groups serve as a form of segregation.

As a result, parental rights organization Parents Defending Education began filing public records requests in schools to uncover ways schools were indoctrinating students through “affinity groups.” As Townhall covered, it has since been revealed that some school districts have these kinds of groups available for both students and staff. 

This week, PDE revealed that New Trier High School District in Winnetka, Illinois made a job posting to its LinkedIn account for a “Black and Brown Club Affinity Group Sponsor.” The school’s website claims that such groups “[make] for a more equitable experience at school.” 

The job posting, which is open to faculty, states that the sponsor should “collaborate with racial affinity group sponsors to plan and implement group sessions,” that the group “meets during rotating periods on a weekly basis,” and is “mandatory” (via PDE):

Listed as part of the district’s Student Resources, affinity groups “‘allow students who share an identity – usually a marginalized identity – to gather, talk in a safe space about issues related to that identity, and transfer that discussion into action that makes for a more equitable experience at school.'”

One of the affinity groups offered to students is the “White Anti-Racist” group which is for “students who identify as white and anti-racist.” The description states that the purpose is to “provide an opportunity for students to gather and provide each other support while deepening their own understanding of their role as a white student at New Trier.”

"It's quite brazen for New Trier High School officials to post a job advertisement for a race based extracurricular student club. This district would be well served by getting rid of all activities and programs that include and exclude students based on the color of their skin. Seems obvious but the powers that be in this district still don't seem to get it,” Erika Sanzi, director of outreach for PDE, told Townhall.

Last year, PDE shared documents with Townhall revealing that the Vermont School Boards Association (VSBA) received a grant to “support school board affinity group(s).” 

In an email to the school districts about the affinity group, VSBA stated: “Because it’s essential that board members of color have a voice in identifying and removing barriers and developing solutions to create more equitable student outcomes, VSBA’s first affinity group will bring together school board members who are Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC).”

"The Vermont School Board Association is so backwards in its thinking that it thinks separating school board members into racially segregated groups is a good idea. It's hard to imagine a better way to sabotage an elected body and by extension, the schools they serve,  than to deliberately include and exclude certain members based on the color of their skin,” Sanzi told Townhall.

In another instance, PDE discovered that the Bryan Station High School in Lexington, Kentucky is offering a “Daughters of Africa” affinity group meant only for “female students who are descendants from Africa." 

“Daughters of Africa is nothing short of unconstitutional, as it unfairly targets students of a specific sex and country of origin,” Caroline Moore, vice president of PDE, told Townhall. 

“Unfortunately, we have seen groups like this trend in districts across the country. If this district has a vested interest in ‘female descendents of Africa’ to align with a book of the same name, shouldn’t this group be open to all and not held in the shadows?” she added. 

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