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OC school event 'demeaning' to Mexican culture canceled after student complaint

August 23, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
An event called Senores and Senoritas has been canceled at Canyon High School in Anaheim Hills after a student complained that it was offensive to the Mexican Culture.

"Students were dressing up very stereotypically, demeaning to Mexican culture, and I just didn't think it should be allowed," said Jared Garcia-Kessler.

Garcia-Kessler, who graduated last year, complained to the Orange Unified School District about the event, which last occurred in June. For the last three years, it was part of a year-end celebration for seniors called Senior Spirit Week. He says students were given no guidelines from the administration.

"It was up to the students to decide what they wore," he said. "The worst cases were definitely this past year."

Photos from the event show students dressed in sombreros and fake moustaches. Others pose as though they're gang members. Two girls are also seen dressed as border patrol agents arresting a teen pretending to be undocumented.

Garcia-Kessler also said what is upsetting to him is that some of the students who took part in the inappropriate behavior were Latino.

Michael L. Christensen, the superintendant of schools, says the district does not condone the behavior of the students who acted inappropriately. After conducting a thorough investigation, Christensen said:

"It was determined that some students dressed in a stereotypical fashion, which was not appropriate, and that the actions of these students was demeaning and offensive."

The event has now been removed from this year's Senior Spirit Week.

"I get why they would want to cancel it," Tyler Prange, a senior. "I don't think it's going to be a big deal, we'll find other ways to have fun and celebrate that we're seniors."

Garcia-Kessler says the high school administration will now have to undergo diversity/sensitivity training. The school will also offer an ethnic studies class and special activities during another school event called International Week.

Garcia-Kessler is happy with the decision to call off the event.

"I'm happy they cancelled it, we came up with other resolutions," he said. "People need to be more sensitive to people's cultures."

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