On Tuesday, June 14, the Bayport-Blue Point School District sent out a letter to parents regarding actions to be taken in connection with racist graffiti scrawled in multiple boys’ bathrooms at the high school.
The Suffolk County Police Department was contacted in connection with the defaced school property at approximately 3 p.m. and they are currently investigating the matter.
“These images and words were hateful and racially intolerant… At this point, the images have been removed, and the bathrooms have been re-opened to students,” the letter from Bayport-Blue Point superintendent Dr. Timothy Hearney said.
Confirming that the school district “takes these matters very seriously and does not condone the use or promotion of hateful messages or such references,” the letter went to warn that strict disciplinary action and potentially, criminal charges would be taken against those responsible for the racist graffiti.
“In closing, I encourage all of our families to have age-appropriate conversations with their children about the power of offensive words and hateful images. At BBP, we pride ourselves on having an inclusive environment, and the inappropriate actions displayed today have no place in our schools. It is important that our students understand the consequences one can face when engaging in such behaviors,” said Hearney.
Anyone with information is asked to contact principal Robert Haas at (631) 472-7800 ext. 5001.
According to the Department of Justice, “Schools are not immune from such intolerance and violence. Hate-motivated behavior, whether in the form of ethnic conflict, harassment, intimidation, or graffiti, is often apparent on school grounds. Hate violence is also perpetrated by hate groups, which actively work to recruit young people to their ranks. The good news is that children are not born with such attitudes; they are learned.”
In addition, the Department of Justice advises that schools, families, law enforcement, and communities work together to prevent the development of the prejudiced attitudes and violent behavior that lead to hate crimes.
“Prejudice and the resulting violence can be reduced or even eliminated by instilling in children an appreciation and respect for each other’s differences, and by helping them to develop empathy, conflict resolution, and critical thinking skills. By teaching children that even subtle forms of hate are inherently wrong, we can hope to prevent more extreme acts of hate in the future,” the Department of Justice said in a presentation on preventing youth hate crimes.
A report by New York 1 News in May 2022 said that hate crimes were up 42 percent in major cities.
Research from the Department of Justice indicates that a substantial number of these crimes were committed by males under age 20.
Local churches made a united front and sent out a statement in support of the school district’s actions.
“On June 14, 2022, racially hateful words and images were found in the public restrooms of Bayport High School in Bayport, N.Y. As faith leaders of this community, we are in full support of the seriousness with which the Bayport-Blue Point School District is handling this incident. We believe that all people are made in the image of God—that God cares for, loves, and has concern for all humanity and all creation. Therefore, all people are deserving of dignity and respect. We are deeply distressed by the recent increase in hate crimes in Long Island and across the country. We urge all our community members to fight this trend and join together to ensure a safe and just environment for every one of our children,” read the statement that was signed by Pastor Michael Miano (Blue Point Bible Church), Pastor Sejin Cha (Bayport United Methodist Church), Fr. Kevin M. Smith (Our Lady of the Snow Catholic Church), Rev. Dean Panagos (St. John’s Greek Orthodox Church), Rabbi Jessica Rosenthal (B’nai Israel Reform Temple), Pastor Richard Allen (Sayville UMC), Fr. Thomas J. Pers (St. Lawrence the Martyr RC Church), Rev. Brian J. Ingram (St. Lawrence the Martyr Church), Rev. Jeff Stevenson, HoSM (St. Ann’s Episcopal Church), and Rev. Lilo Carr Rivera (St. Ann’s Episcopal Church).