Statement of Apology
introducing the 150 club
STATEMENT OF APOLOGY
The Diocesan School for Girls hereby offers a sincere and unreserved apology to pupils, staff and parents, past and present, who have been hurt and suffered as a result of racism, prejudice or discrimination experienced during their involvement with the school.
1. EXPRESSING REGRET
As an institution, the DSG wishes to acknowledge the inherent racism of DSG’s history and institutional culture and to express deep regret and remorse at the resulting experiences of exclusion, alienation and marginalisation endured by many Black People and People of Colour during their involvement with the school.
DSG owes its very existence to the colonial project and was established for the Christian, liberal education of white girls. The first black pupil was enrolled in the early eighties. Although the demographics of the school gradually changed, it took until the 2000s before institutional transformation was even considered. We regret the many years when Pupils of Colour were excluded altogether and when the complex and painful experiences of our Pupils of Colour were not acknowledged, and transformation was not prioritised.
We deeply regret the many times that pupils and staff of Colour were made to feel that the fulness of their culture, history, identity, and humanity was not welcomed and embraced at the school, and that they needed to change, deny, or hide aspects of themselves in order to assimilate in this environment. We failed to embrace and celebrate the rich gift of diversity with which we were entrusted.
We have heard how, within this environment, People of Colour experienced the destructive impact of racist attitudes, words and actions from peers, educators, and other adults. We also acknowledge the hurt inflicted in this space through both conscious and unconscious discrimination and bias. We are truly sorry that we failed to protect all the children in our care at all times, and for the pain that this caused. We are sorry too for hurt inflicted on staff and parents of Colour by institutional racism.
2. ACCEPTING RESPONSIBILITY
As an institution, we failed for many years to recognise, challenge, and undo a system which benefitted only some of our pupils. We acknowledge that whiteness offered unearned advantages in this environment, and that, while many may not have intentionally or consciously discriminated, they benefitted from the system and were complicit in its continuation by doing nothing. As an institution we are therefore also guilty of the sin of omission: what we left undone for so long.
This apology does not invalidate the many, many remarkable members of the DSG community, of all races, who have worked for change and justice and continue to serve and make significant positive contributions. It is, however, a strong message to every person involved with our school that our work is far from done and, as we venture into the future together, we need to respect each and every other, and be open to listening, talking, learning and growing.
3. GENUINLY REPENTING
Therefore, this statement and apology today is one further step in an ongoing journey of transformation with the goal of ensuring that every member of our school community feels safe and included and knows that they belong. It is a public declaration of repentance within the context of our Christian faith: the expression of remorse and the signalling of a change in direction, attitude and behaviour.
Whilst this statement is a single moment or event, we recognize that repentance is a journey in which actions speak far louder than words. The DSG has been walking this journey for a number of years now, starting with listening to and deeply hearing the stories of our pupils, staff and parents of Colour, and then responding in various ways: by consultatively developing policies and procedures to challenge and eliminate racism, by engaging in ongoing education of all members of our school community, by thoughtfully and with wise guidance managing incidents and reports as they arise. We are committed to employing and nurturing staff of Colour at every level and embracing all that they bring and to making structural and aesthetic changes which embrace and welcome all who attend our school.
We have done and are doing much, but there is more to do: the work of transforming hearts and minds and not simply words and behaviour, is dynamic and ongoing process of learning and unlearning.
We are aware that even in the steps that we have taken we have made mistakes. We have failed, despite our best intentions, to always offer a safe and trusted space where people can talk about hurtful experiences when they occur and to respond effectively. We commit to learning from our mistakes and doing better.
4. REQUESTING FORGIVENESS
As an institution, we humbly ask forgiveness of those who have experienced the hurt of racism within our walls. Forgiveness is a complex and difficult process, and we recognize this. By forgiveness we do not mean erasure or forgetting, but a fierce and robust engagement with our commitment to change. Hold DSG accountable. Let us know when we fall short.
We cannot undo the hurt that has been inflicted but we are steadfast in our commitment to hold every member of the DSG Community accountable to ways of being together that are life-giving and affirming for all. We are all children of God, made in God’s image and likeness and we are challenged to always treat others with dignity, respect and kindness.
We will live out our identity as a church school by being a loving community, committed to justice and creative, critical citizenship. We will keep listening, reflecting, taking responsibility, making changes, and moving forward together.