Lack of Diversity

Middle school students typically wake up in the morning, put on an outfit that matches everyone else’s, walk out of the house (remembering that pretty smile), get to school, and find a group of friends to chat with.

If anyone dares to be different than the others, “OMG, did you see what so-and-so did?” “I know! Can you believe it?” They become the target of “what not to do.” Then, because it’s what they’re “supposed” to do, they snap back into conformity and perhaps deny with an embarrassed laugh that they were any different from anyone else. Or, if they continue in their individuality, there’s an audible distance from others as they’re subtly but purposefully avoided, because few have the courage to be a part of anything they’re not “supposed” to be. In kindergarten the teacher is saying that the world is an interesting place because we’re all different. But we’re not different.

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There are certain conformities that are necessary in life—education, a job for example. But when a group acts the same, dresses the same, and is the same in general, there’s no balance to even everything out. We can look at a rose and appreciate its beauty, then look at an iris and appreciate its beauty. They’re both different, but they’re both flowers. I guess what this all boils down to is that the lack of diversity in many school environments is what keeps students from being comfortable there. Think about it: during the school year, students spend almost half their lives in classrooms, and if they have to go around hiding behind a mask, it’s going to be one miserable year after the next.

When someone’s different, there’s a tendency to not accept them because of fear of what we don’t understand. It’s a vicious cycle—there’s something you don’t like about yourself that you don’t want others to know about, so you bring somebody else down so you’ll feel better about your own insecurities. Then the person you brought down gets self-conscious and does the same thing to somebody else, and so on. Pretty soon, everyone is so worried about their differences that they turn into this robotic ambassador of their “perfect” community, where everyone is happy and has a wonderful life. If we could forget about what others think and realize that everyone has flaws, schools could be much more accepting places.