A student pictured on social media with a racist homecoming proposal that included a reference to slavery no longer attends Trinity High School in Manchester, New Hampshire, officials said Saturday.
Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Manchester David Thibault declined to identify the student, but confirmed in a statement to MassLive that the person is no longer a student at the high school. The image sparked a wave of criticism against the school and sparked outrage among local community members.
“This is a time to sit with others and really listen; to love our neighbor as ourselves,” Thibault said. “Talking past each other, threats of violence, sharing personal information and spreading misinformation is unacceptable and must stop. Instead, let us continue to work together to build a community where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.”
The photo, MassLive previously reported, depicted a boy and girl standing next to each other and laughing with a sign that referred to racism.
WMUR previously reported that the man in the photo is part of the high school’s football team.
“I know his heart. That’s not what he’s about. I think it’s a tragic mistake, it’s one that the school needs to make sure he takes responsibility for and make sure he’s disciplined for,” football coach Rob Cathcart told WMUR. “I can’t speak to the school, it’s their decision and their policy and they’ll do what’s appropriate, but I know in his heart that’s not who he is.”
In Saturday’s statement, Thibault said there was a “viral narrative” about the disciplinary action “allegedly imposed” on the student.
“This narrative is baseless. The rumor of a ‘one-day suspension’ and clearance of the student to continue his participation in athletics is simply not correct and never has been,” said Thibault. “The Trinity administration took action within hours after receiving an internal report on this image.”
Thibault said any student affected by the events can talk to parents, faculty, the school chaplain, administration officials and the counseling department “because no one should be treated differently because of race, color or ethnicity.”
“Trinity has a supportive community of teachers and staff and I had the opportunity to meet with them yesterday; they care deeply about each student and are devastated that their students are hurting. I would like to convey my support to the entire Trinity family,” the statement read.
The wording on the sign has been used before. CNN reported in 2018 that a senior student in Sarasota, Florida, held a sign with similar language. Another student used the exact same language in April at Northern Illinois High School, according to the Chicago Defender.
Thibault said there will be school-wide discussion, listening sessions and “formation” in the wake of the incident.
“I look forward to being on campus next week as they spend time in prayer and in dialogue with each other,” he said in the statement.
Read Thibault’s full statement below: