Education

Racial slurs used at high school basketball game, school officials say

Students from Champlain Valley Union High School cheer on the Winooski High School boys soccer team in September 2021. Since the school year began, allegations of abusive comments from the field and stands have derailed a series of high school sporting events in Vermont and across the country, most recently at an Enosburg-Middlebury basketball game Tuesday night. File photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

At least one fan of Enosburg Falls High School directed racial slurs at an opposing athlete playing in a high school basketball game this week, school officials announced Wednesday, the latest instance of a problem that has plagued high school sports in Vermont. 

The unidentified person or people aimed the slurs at a Middlebury Union High School athlete during a girls junior varsity game between the two schools Tuesday, superintendents from the school districts said. Enosburg fans were subsequently ejected from the game.

Both Peter Burrows, the superintendent of Addison Central School District, which includes Middlebury Union, and Lynn Cota, the superintendent of Franklin Northeast Supervisory Union, which includes Enosburg Falls, condemned the hate speech.

“This abuse has no place in our schools and will not be tolerated,” Cota said in a statement Wednesday. “We will continue to work with our students, staff, parents and greater community to build our collective capacity to recognize and respond to acts of discrimination.”

School officials said they had confirmed that slurs were used, and are working to find the person or people behind them. Middlebury Union athletes were given access to “guidance and supports,” officials said. 

“It is crucial that we act swiftly to address any instances of discrimination in our school communities,” Burrows said. 

Since the school year began, allegations of abusive comments from the field and stands have derailed a series of high school sporting events in Vermont and across the country.

In September, Winooski school officials accused Enosburg Falls fans and players of calling student athletes “N-word, monkey, and terrorist” during a soccer game. (Investigations at the two schools reached differing conclusions.) 

Games involving teams from Burlington, South Burlington, Hartford and Fair Haven have also been marred by sexism, racism and transphobia. 

Last fall, after several such incidents, school officials unveiled new steps for reporting and investigating abuse at sporting events. 

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Peter D'Auria

About Peter

Peter D’Auria covers education for VTDigger. Prior to moving to Vermont, he worked for The Jersey Journal, The Chilkat Valley News and Willamette Week. He is originally from Portland, Oregon.

Email: [email protected]

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