Statement of Solidarity with the Hmong/Lao Community in Wausau
Joint Statement of Solidarity by Citizen Action and WISDOM In Support of the Hmong Community in Wausau
Citizen Action of Wisconsin and WISDOM stand in solidarity with the Hmong community in Wausau and offer support to the Vongphakdy family as they seek a just response to the racist and homophobic comments their student experienced at the hands of a Wausau School District employee.
We deplore the increase in violence and discrimination against AAPI communities around the country. We recognize that this incident fits into a larger pattern of harassment that causes members of the Hmong community to feel fear in public spaces, including schools. This is unacceptable, especially coming from a school instructor charged with setting a good example for young people. Hmong students deserve to go to school without fear of verbal abuse.
It is the responsibility of the Wausau School District to prepare students to participate in a multi-racial democracy. The district must lead by example and show students how to recognize and respond to injustice, how to be accountable moral actors, and how to behave in public spaces.
Instead, the Wausau School District investigated the incidents and confirmed that the staff member’s conduct had been “insensitive and unprofessional.” Yet, they returned that staff member to the classroom, against the objection of the student’s parents, members of the Hmong community, and allies.
We applaud the Wisconsin State Department of Public Instruction for initiating an investigation. We ask that the Wausau School District and the DPI work with the Vongphakdy family to develop a response that will create justice. Further, we ask that the school district seek guidance from the Hmong community about strategies to build trust with the Hmong community and develop policies and practices to make Wausau schools more inclusive spaces.