Massachusetts school offers 'safe space' for 'students of color' after Rittenhouse, Arbery verdicts

One safe space was geared specifically to 'students of color'

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A middle school in Massachusetts offered "safe spaces" to students after the verdicts in the Kyle Rittenhouse and Ahmaud Arbery cases.

Bigelow Middle School in Newton, Massachusetts, sent out a "midweek update" Dec. 1 to families of students at the school that directs them to review a letter detailing "safe space choices" for students.

The letter details three separate "safe spaces" that opened Dec. 2 in response to verdicts in the Kyle Rittenhouse and Ahmad Arbery cases, with one for "students of color." It also encouraged parents to discuss safe space choices with their children.

Students had an option to attend their advisory class period as usual or choose from one of three "safe spaces" after watching a video from the school's principal, Chassity Coston, addressing both cases.

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Bigelow Middle School in Massachusetts  

Bigelow Middle School in Massachusetts   (Google Maps)

"Reactions to Verdicts: Hearing and learning from peers," "Rumor Control Room: Facts presented in cases, today's laws and final verdicts," and "Questions & Discussion for Students of Color" were all listed as "safe spaces" for students.

"Come together with other Bigelow students of color to process and get answers to any questions you have regarding these two cases," one of the safe space descriptions states. 

The letter says that the Rittenhouse and Arbery cases are "both sensitive topics with many layers of political, racial and social concerns."

"Regardless of those concerns, the Kyle Rittenhouse conclusion will likely be seen as yet another unfair reality for many Bigelow families, staff and students — particularly our community members of color, while the Ahmaud Arbery conclusion may be seen as a glimpse of hope and justice," the letter states.

The school's principal stated in the letter that the school has a responsibility to "address the impact" of both situations with students.

Kyle Rittenhouse walks during his trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., Nov. 19, 2021.  

Kyle Rittenhouse walks during his trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., Nov. 19, 2021.   (Sean Krajacic/Pool via REUTERS)

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"Bigelow has a responsibility to address the impact of both situations, and to make sure that you as students are educated on real-world topics to prepare you for life after Bigelow," Coston wrote.

Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all charges against him as jurors finished deliberations on Nov. 19. He faced charges after fatally shooting two people and shooting and injuring a third man during the riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Aug. 25, 2020.

Travis McMichael, his father Greg, and William "Roddie" Bryan were all found guilty of felony murder in the Ahmaud Arbery case Nov. 24.

Erika Sanzi, the director of outreach for Parents Defending Education told Fox News that the safe spaces shouldn't be acceptable.

"Putting a shiny gloss on racial segregation by calling it a ‘safe space’ or ‘affinity group’ doesn't make it an acceptable practice anywhere but especially not in a public school," Sanzi said.

A spokesperson for the Newton Public Schools told Fox News that the letter was sent to families of students at the school and defended the usage of the "safe spaces."

(Fox News)

"When these types of national events occur, we provide our staff with the support they need to navigate these challenging conversations, as well as the space they may need to process the event themselves. We fully support our schools’ efforts to create space and support for all of our students and staff members and are grateful that we have school leaders who are committed to engaging in this important work," the spokesperson said.

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The spokesperson added that students needed space to process the outcomes of both the Kyle Rittenhouse and the Ahmaud Arbery cases.

"We know that students experience events differently, and it is our responsibility to not overlook the impact and harm on all community members, including those who are traditionally marginalized, such as people of color. In this particular case, we acknowledge the need for students to learn more about the context of the case and to provide space for them to process and discuss it."