The student news site of Wilmington Friends School

The Whittier Miscellany

The student news site of Wilmington Friends School

The Whittier Miscellany

The student news site of Wilmington Friends School

The Whittier Miscellany

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Affinity Groups

Diversity or Division?

Though their intentions are positive, affinity groups have recently come under fire for claims of their segregational properties.

WHY IT MATTERS:

Concerned parents have recently highlighted problems with having affinity groups within

schools across America. Could these accusations lead to an eventual change in WFS’s affinity

programs?

Representation goes a long way when it comes to creating safe havens for students

 

that identify with marginalized groups, like race and gender identity. A CDC spokesperson ar-

ticulates in a statement to the Washington Examiner, “…encourages schools to establish affinity

 

groups… where students of like interests and identities can experience social connectedness,

which can contribute to better mental health.” This is why affinity groups have been established

in schools both nationally and here at Wilmington Friends School (WFS).

At WFS, we celebrate our diverse student body and make it a point to ensure all

 

students and teachers feel recognized. 1st grade WFS teacher Sia Willie remarks that, “Affini-

ty groups are what allow those same people to confidently go out into the world and not lose

 

themselves, nor their true identities.”

However, there is a national controversy that lies within the arguments of whether we

 

should or shouldn’t encourage affinity groups. Why has this underlying controversy not affect-

ed Friends yet?

 

Arguments for affinity groups:

Affinity groups offer participants a safe space to discuss issues that directly affect the

group.

They can be a great resource for marginalized students and faculty members to learn

from and bond over their shared experiences. Sia Willie states, “I think society is having a

 

problem with affinity groups now, because they have a label. Affinity groups have always exist-

ed, just not under a specific title.”

 

Contrary to the anti-affinity group belief that these groups only show kids that people

are different based on their race, experts state that the groups are actually made as forums to

discuss the impacts of individuals receiving different treatment based on immutable traits.

Eesha Pendharkar remarks that, “Affinity groups are meant to be safe spaces… to discuss

mutual concerns and help each other navigate a K-12 education system where they are in the

minority,” in an article for the Education Week post.

Many parents struggle to understand that there are groups within an inclusive school

 

system that their children are excluded from joining. The groups have been deemed as separat-

ist, racist, segregational, and exclusive by many disgruntled parents.

 

The grassroots organization, Parents Defending Education, has recently filed four

 

complaints with the US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, stating that the ex-

istence of these groups violates the Civil Rights act and the equal protection clause of the 14th

 

Amendment.

“These groups teach children that our sameness and our differences are found in our

immutable traits like skin color,” the Parents of Education organization reports in a disquisition

defining affinity groups.

The bottom line:

These negative accusations cannot be applied to the WFS affinity groups, as participation in

these groups is open to everyone.

 

The affinity groups at WFS are serving a purpose. WFS Director of Educational Justice & Com-

munity Engagements Erica Childs points out, “As long as people show up, the groups will still

be important.”

 

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