Should a race and gender class be required for Minnetonka students?

Annabelle Fung, Staff Writer

The issue of race and gender inequality is seen in many different settings across the globe. It plays a big role in society and influences how people treat each other. Many people might blame the American education system for not teaching students how to treat each other respectfully and contributing to this issue. There have been many instances where students have recalled racist behavior from their peers and teachers in Minnetonka.

Schools play a significant part in race and gender inequality. According to the Washington Post, Brown University accepted 11 percent of men versus 7 percent of women in 2014, and Vassar College had a 34 percent acceptance rate for men compared to the 19 percent rate for women. NBC news also claimed that women make up more than 70 percent of class valedictorians and, during the last ten years, two million more women graduate than men in the United States. The U.S Department of Education’s 2014 Civil Rights Data also reported that Black, Latinx, and Native Americans have a higher chance of being taught by first year teachers than white students. 

There is not a single elective or class offered at Minnetonka that tackles this topic, yet students still encounter race and gender inequality in the school.

Lena Pak, ‘21, said that “Race and gender inequality [are] so ingrained in our system that it requires us to actively fight against it to solve the issue. Racism and sexism [have] been normalized on so many levels that we barely even notice [they are] there until we start to see the effects of that oppression in the form of opportunity gaps, income gaps, police brutality, etc.” 

  Pak also said that when she looked back at some of her experiences in the school, she noticed how sexist and racist they were. Although some students may not realize how their actions affect others, it still leaves a deep impact on people, whether it is negative or positive. 

When asked whether Minnetonka should provide a gender and race equity class to combat this issue, Pak said, “Yes, definitely. As Minnetonka specifically is a large majority white school, we have a responsibility to teach our students how to be able to function in a diverse world with respect and open-mindedness.Students of color know what racism is and spend their whole lives surviving in spite of it, but white students need to be taught what systemic racism is and how to fight against it. Failing to teach students these skills leaves them unprepared for the real world and unable to interact with diverse people in a respectful way.” 

Schools have the responsibility of teaching students the right way to act. Including a race and gender equity course at Minnetonka will enable students to learn more about the impact of race and gender inequality and teach them how to avoid worsening this issue. 

As Natalie Portman, an actor and activist stated: “The future is all of us… We need to add seats to the table. We’re not taking away seats. We need to include everyone. This is for the betterment of everyone’s world.”