Names Day is an Opportunity for Our Kids to Reflect: Names Can Really Hurt Us

Submitted by Mary Henderson, Riverside

Thursday is Names Day at Greenwich High School. This annual event for high school freshmen, supported by the Anti-Defamation League, gives a voice to the targets of bullying and bias, builds empathy in the perpetrators, and inspires bystanders to become allies against prejudice and harassment. The recent settlement of the wrongful-death lawsuit concerning the shattering loss of Bart Palosz in 2013 should focus our minds on how critical these events are for our kids and our community.

And yet. The Republican Town Committee (via Twitter) was encouraging parents to opt their children out of this event because they have a gripe about the so-called “regressive ideals” of the ADL.

“We’re all for ending bullying in our schools!”, they cry. But they seem to place more value on circling the wagons around their increasingly insular view of community, where diversity, equity and inclusion would be thrown out with the books and words they find so offensive.

It is a big world, and there is room for lots of people and lots of perspectives.

Names Day is an opportunity for our kids to reflect on the value of a supportive community for catalyzing compassion, acceptance, and social justice. My son benefited from this event as a freshman in 2005 and as a moderator in 2006. Another GHS graduate, whose life was profoundly affected by a Names Day assembly several years ago, explained eloquently why those parents who follow the RTC’s curious advice may be doing their children a terrible disservice.

We can all do better by not purposefully closing our kids’ eyes, minds and hearts to the world in all its abundance of ideas, ways of being human, and conceptions of beauty, grace, and community.