On Monday, the 2019 yearbook for San Pasqual High School in Escondido, California, was released, and it’s causing quite a stir.
The yearbook’s World Language Department faculty section features photos of seven teachers, six of whom are wearing sombreros, ponchos, and fake mustaches. Millie Laurs, a French teacher, can be seen wearing long black gloves, pearls, sunglasses, and a beret.
On Tuesday, the school released a statement condemning the "culturally insensitive" photos:
The 2019 year book for San Pascual High School, "The Golden Legend," was released yesterday to senior students. It has come to our attention it contained photos from the World Language Department that are culturally insensitive and in poor judgment. The photos are a collection of pictures taken at the beginning of the year for use as teacher ID photos.
Administrators have discussed the issue with the SPHS staff. Principal Martin Casas and his administrative team are taking precautions to ensure a similar situation does not occur in the future.
According to principal Casas, "San Pasqual High School takes pride in its rich history and diversity. It is our intent to use the situation as a tool to remind students, as well as staff, to remember the impacts of their words and actions. We are committed to continuing our efforts to ensure all students, families and staff feel welcome and valued."
"United ... we are San Pasqual."
NBC7 quoted two Hispanic parents who stated that although they could understand why some people might find the photos offensive, they themselves did not.
Another parent called the photos "hilarious," and said that "lately everything is so sensitive." She added: "If they were teaching Russian and they had a Russian hat, I would find it hilarious."
As of publication, there are nine comments below the high school’s apology tweet, three of which counter the insensitivity claim:
As a Mexican born, raised, and living in Mexico, I do not feel offended by it. In fact, we do that every 16 of September. I feel more offended that they put "Senor" instead of "Señor."
As a Mexican who attended San Pasqual high and had classes with some of those teachers I don’t find it offensive ... we actually see this as a way to embrace/celebrate our culture.
One user did react negatively toward the photos, writing: "Shame on your staff."
Principal Martin Casas tweeted that "cultural appropriation is offensive, even if the intent is not to offend, and has no place in our school. We have a lot of work to do."
There’s no word on whether the teachers depicted in the photos will face disciplinary action.
Cultural appropriation has been a hot topic in recent years. Just last week, Gucci came under fire for the design of the "Indy Full Turban," which was sold by Nordstrom. After swift backlash, the turban was pulled from the store, and Nordstrom issued an apology, stating in part: "It was never our intent to disrespect this religious and cultural symbol. We sincerely apologize to anyone who may have been offended by this."