Account from a DCCS member who attended elementary school in the Salt Lake City School District:
I remember when I was in 4th grade we were watching the news at night at my house and a story came on about polygamists in Salt Lake from the Kingston group. They were saying things that I felt like weren't true. As we finished up watching the news my older siblings said well I wonder how school is going to be like tomorrow. And we shrugged our shoulders and said I don't know we'll have to find out tomorrow.
When I got to school the next day I was hoping it would be a normal day but came to find out it wasn't, it was far from. When it got time for recess all of the kids got up to line up to go out side and play and as we were all in line my teacher called my name and told me to go to the end of the line so I did, then when all of the kids were out but me she says I want you to stay inside for recess today, come over to the reading group table.
We walked back to the table and sat down and she started drilling me with a bunch of personal family questions like what's your dad's name? I answered daddy and what's your mom's name? I said mom. What's your siblings names? I told her all of my mom's kids names. Does your parents do really bad stuff to you? I thought that was one of the weirdest questions ever, I said no they never have. She kind of acted like I wasn't getting the questions right but I answered the best I knew, and she went on and on with more questions until recess was over. I thought that time with her felt a little awkward but I was glad recess ended and I thought that was the end of it. Little did I know, that would be the beginning of a very long year.
Several times after that when it was recess she would call me to the end of the line then tell me after everyone had left that I had to stay and put my head down on my desk. I hadn't done anything wrong that I could remember, I just had to put my head down. Then for several days she started holding me afterschool to work for her, she told me that I had to straighten all of the math books or the reading books or wipe off all of the students desks. Anything she could think of to hold me after school. If the project was too long, I told her I had to go home, but she said, "that's ok I'll drive you home." Then when she got to my house she'd say, "that's where you live? Is there a bunch of people that live here?" I'd say just my mom and dad and my siblings and I'd head out of her van and go home.
The reason she said I had to work for her was because, "our class wouldn't get messy if you weren’t in it" and I had to make sure things were nice before I left school. So, I started finding things to clean before the bell rang. When the bell rang, my teacher would just find something else that I had to clean. The classroom sink, straighten all of the kids’ desks, clean up after the other students' art projects, etc.
This went on for days until my mom decided to figure out why I was taking so long to come home. She went to talk to my teacher and told her that I needed to leave school just like the other students. After that, my teacher let me go home like everyone else. However, later in the year, my teacher started teaching the class about Utah history and the pioneers. She would call out my name and say, "[student] knows all about polygamy. She knows all about how they lived don't you now," with a sarcastic smirk and tone. Just on and on and I would just sit in class and listen. I was so glad when that school year was over. I had tried so hard to try and please her but nothing I said or did for her was ever good enough, I was just that kid she picked on.
I had other injustices in my other classes later in life by other students, but nothing like that year in 4th grade. Looking back, I wasn't doing anything wrong in class even though my teacher made me believe it was my fault. It was simply religious discrimination that I had gone through that year. I'm all grown up now, and it brings me peace of mind and I'm so glad that my kids are going to a school where they feel safe and that they don't have to endure the religious discrimination like I did. They can learn reading, writing, history, science, have P.E. and all of the other subjects and just enjoy school. I hope their school can be available for many years to come.
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