CENTEREACH, N.Y. – A New York elementary school is teaching students a lesson about free speech by canceling its mock presidential election after some students chanted “Trump!” and others raised issues about minorities.
Jericho Elementary School principal Glen Rogers told ABC News he decided to cancel the mock presidential election, and instead have students vote on their favorite school lunch, because students engaged in heated discussions about the election and “negative rhetoric about minorities.”
“Teachers have said they’ve heard some kids in the cafeteria chanting ‘Trump! Trump! Trump!’ or saying they don’t want Muslims here,” Rogers said.
I mean, kids often repeat what they hear on the TV or the news, but it doesn’t mean it’s OK,” he said. “We have a diverse community here. We want all our students to feel valued.”
Rogers said the decision boiled down to preventing minority students “from feeling uncomfortable,” the news site reports.
— ABC News (@ABC) November 2, 2016
Several students spoke with ABC News about the situation for a video posted to Twitter.
“People were getting angry because some people like Trump and some people like Clinton,” a young pigtailed girl in braces said. “There’s a lot of arguments going on and I don’t like that.”
“People were fighting about who to vote for,” a Hispanic boy said.
At least one student seemed upset about the canceled presidential election.
“Adults get to do it, so why can’t children?” the minority student said.
Twitchy.com highlighted the reaction to the canceled event on Twitter.
“Oh look – PC culture strikes again and we have to shield snowflakes from real-world issues they’ll face anyway,” ‘member 1776? Posted in response to the ABC News story.
“Participation medals for all!” ThewlynOh added.
Regardless, school officials are moving forward with the favorite lunch election “to get them excited about Election Day,” Rogers said.
“We still thought it was important to do something with voting and showing democracy in action,” he said.
Rogers assured the site the election is “still an important topic,” but isn’t something students should be discussing without proper supervision.
The election is “better explored in the classroom,” he said, “where teachers can lead and guide discussions, rather than in the cafeteria among students.”
“One thing we’re really trying to teach the students is the differences between opinions and facts,” Rodgers added. “It’s important for our students to be able to express their opinions, but it’s also important for them to be informed about it and not just repeating what they happen to hear.”