Looking at the world it is clear that political correctness has become a growing concern. Examples of it are in the media all the time–– a couple of months ago, Virginia high school teacher was fired for refusing to use his transgender student’s pronouns. Peter Vlaming, the teacher in the situation, was fired in early December citing his religion for his inability to acknowledge his student’s gender. Many articles like “Christian Headlines” are now inquiring as to Vlaming’s freedom of speech and blaming political correctness for Vlaming being fired from his job. Which raises the question: does political correctness do more harm or good?
All across the political spectrum, political correctness seems to be a growing concern for people. Both those who understand it and those who aren’t concerned about it have opinions on its role in current politics. In order to understand it, it first must be defined. Mr. Jeff Fix, AP United States Government teacher, has his own definition of political correctness. “Political correctness is being kind when you express your opinion. Using proper terminology and thinking about how your words could impact others,” Fix said.
Although political correctness is meant to help rather than hurt dialogue, some feel that being politically correct restricts their speech. “I think it restricts people because they’re concerned about offending other people with what they say. But really, we shouldn’t have to be concerned,” senior Jenna Ritten said.
As this is a concern for students it could also be a concern for teachers and the way in which they go about teaching their classes.
So, how does this concept play out in the classroom? “I do concern myself with it, but more in a way that I think it is important to be kind and respectful. I’m not constantly worrying about what I say or how I say it. I think also because I don’t express my personal opinions on matters in the classroom, it isn’t something I need to worry about all the time,” Fix said.
However, the same could not be said for Ritten. “I worry about it all the time. A lot of people usually find themselves being offended with my opinions, so I have to really think about the things I say… all the time,” Ritten said.
Other students also seem to think their speech is restricted by paying attention to being politically correct. “I’d say I definitely worry about being politically correct. I concern myself with it because I care about not offending others, and it is important for me to be respectful,” junior Breah Banks said.
Some students, however, feel that although political correctness may be restricting, it is also helpful. “Yes, sometimes I feel restricted, but most of the time I think it makes sense. It helps me be able to understand others, and I think that’s important. To treat each other with respect is really the purpose of being PC,” junior Cylysce Doe said.
Like any high school, many people with diverse opinions reside within BSM’s walls. Learning to listen to understand, instead of listening to judge or respond, can make all the difference in how people go about treating and thinking about each other. “I would tell my students to be kind and listen to other people’s opinions and try to understand why they feel what they feel,” Fix said.