This might get me some scorn, but this is my platform and I don’t censor my writing.
I have noticed before, and I am noticing it again, that there are school counselors who publicly announce their opinions, feelings, choices, and voting preferences surrounding national and local issues.
Now let me be clear. Each individual person has a right to their own opinions, feelings, choices, and voting preferences. This is America. That is your right.
But as school counselors, we are also professionals. We are in a profession in which we are leaders, advocates, influencers, mediators, and agents of change.
I understand some of us may see being an advocate and an agent of change as someone who needs to push a certain agenda because they truly believe in it. Some of us may see certain issues as having a clear cut right side and wrong side, and as such become lovers of certain things/people and fighters against certain things/people.
The problem with that is when we take sides, there is always a side we are casting away. And what if there are people – students, families, staff – who are cast aside when we do? Can we be effective school counselors if we are actively (even unconsciously) disregarding groups of people?
I say no. I say it is my job to stay professional. I say it is my job to remain open, nonjudgmental, and curious about people, viewpoints, and journeys different from my own. Otherwise, how can I serve 100% of my student population?
In education, there seems to be a covert and sometimes very overt pressure to believe in certain basic principles, to swallow certain “truths” without much evidence, to believe in certain political agendas, and to conform.
But I know there are educators, and people they are supposed to educate and serve, who don’t fit into that box. What then? Do their beliefs and feelings not matter? Are they wrong? Do they not get a chance and a choice in what happens?
In education circles, it often seems like pushing one side of an issue is the right thing to do, and people jump on board very quickly. But this feels wrong.
It has happened to me. I don’t fit into that box. When I dared to ask questions, to bring up flaws in the evidence used to push forward a certain belief, I was reminded to reread multiculturalism texts; presumably as a way to mold my mind back into what school counselors are “supposed” to belief. It was a subtle reminder that independent thought, outside of the accepted norm, was not really allowed.
Take this pandemic for another example. I have seen school counselors and teachers posting and sharing infographics and articles that very clearly support one side while shaming another. Other articles are straight up fear-mongering. Like we need to be practicing anxiety over the possibility of not returning or budget cuts for next school year. NO ONE knows what next year will look like yet. We’re not even finished this one! It’s not helpful.
And the colorful images telling students that wearing face masks is an act of love? It might sound sweet, but we need to think about ALL students and families. Not everyone can wear a mask, and how exclusionary this message is for them. Whatever you choose to believe in regards to masks, it’s not our place as professionals to tell others what to believe.
Again, you as an individual have the right to believe and do what you wish, as does everyone else. We are also professional school counselors, and we must remember that our roles are to serve everyone in our schools and their families, and we can’t do that if we are not open to ALL sides and ALL people.
I choose to stay quiet about a lot of things, especially before all the evidence or full story comes to light. And even then, in our world of social media, I resist the temptation to comment on things that are none of my business.
Not all thoughts need to be spoken out loud or posted publicly. We don’t need to broadcast every emotion. It’s okay to keep some things to ourselves.
Please don’t mistake my silence as blind acquiescence or conformity.
I choose to stay in my lane and run my own race. To move forward, quietly and confidently.
Good luck on your journey. I wish you the best.