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Teacher of nine years speaks on hate and politics

By John Pache 

Staff Writer


There seems to be a certain number of states that under-report hate crimes every year, if they do at all, and some even go as far as having no protection against them. Further down the line, there also seems to be a connection to states that went red in the 2016 election. The question is whether states that under report hate crimes are caused by the ideals of those who support Trump and whether The Trump Administration does not openly support the prosecution and acknowledgment of hate crimes.


Gretchen Oorthuys, 12th grade mentor and resource specialist at Summit Prep, joined us for an interview about this particular subject and gave us some insight to her opinions. 

Gretchen Oorthuys, 12th grade mentor and resource specialist at Summit Prep


  1. Do you believe there is a relationship between hate crime tolerance and political affiliation?


“I do think there is a connection between hate crime tolerance and political affiliation if/only because I think that there is a political connection to which they recognize instances of hate crimes as separate from other types of crimes.”


2. What instances of racism or other bias/hate have you seen among students or teachers in your time as a teacher?


“So I’ve been teaching, for this is- I’m finishing my 9th year of teaching and I’ve taught in Chicago, New York City and here (Redwood City). I’m glad to say that I haven’t seen a lot of explicit racism between students and I certainly haven’t seen it between teachers, but I have seen a lot of homophobia. I think especially for people that are still figuring out their own personal identity, like younger people, homophobia is an easier thing to slip into just because it’s a part of identity formation that’s inherently awkward, so it’s something that’s gonna come up unless it’s addressed. “


3. How, if at all, were said instances related to politics?


“All the places I have ever taught have been liberal. So my school in the Bronx, every single person was horrified about Trump and definitely everyone in that district, I looked at voting charts, everyone voted for Clinton in 2016. Everyone is gonna vote for whoever the Democratic candidate is, Biden probably, in 2020, but there is still a lot of homophobia. There was still a lot of negative things happening between people based on bias. So I think there is some connection to politics, but I think there’s also some other stuff going on there. 

I would say that at Summit, and in California in general, things are better. We live in a very, very liberal area, but I can see things that are not so great happen anyway. 


4. What difference do you see between life in liberal and conservative states?


“I have a hard time with that one because I’ve never lived in a conservative state. I know what I’ve heard based on reporting and articles and data I’ve looked at. As a woman, I know that there is better protection for women’s health in liberal state, which is a big deal. I know that there is much better acceptance of people from different communities in liberal states, but I’m not sure.”


5.  Is there a reason all of the places you’ve taught are in liberal areas or was it just coincidental?


“A lot of the decisions we made about moving have had to do with education. Where were schools that had really strong programs in the things we were looking at, and then also places that had big cities because my husband and I don’t drive.”

The fight for justice in under prosecuted hate crime cases continues as well as the fight to add protection from them in some states. Although there is a connection to under-reported hate crimes and the states that voted for Trump, Oorthuys agrees that there is relevance, as well as admitting there may be other things that influence the situation. 

Featured Image ( at the top of the post) : Gretchen Oorthuys posing for a picture while helping students in class. PHOTO CREDIT: Kai Lock

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