A letter to parents on September 11, 2015

In response to recent news stories, parents have approached us with questions about student dating, relationships, and sexuality at Deerfield. We thought it appropriate to inform all parents of our plans to address these issues, to create a healthy dialogue and an even safer school experience for our children.

At Deerfield, we strive to instill our students with empathy and concern for others. With that goal in mind, we have several formal structures in place to address issues of sexuality, dating, and consent. Our student handbook, Rules and Expectations for Students, is reviewed and revised every summer, so that it remains relevant, effective, and current. We orient students to dormitory life each fall, emphasizing that all students at Deerfield should look out for one another–and informing them of where to get help when they need it. Health classes keep pace with the latest research and best practices in adolescent development. And all students participate in “boys’ meetings” and “girls’ meetings” once per term to address issues of gender, sexuality, and culture on campus. We also attempt to monitor carefully any development that could lead to a culture or behavior inconsistent with these objectives.

Many other programs on campus support and complement these efforts. Throughout the year, Connect4, School Meetings, inclusion activities, advisory sessions, and Academy Events reinforce a sense of personal responsibility, empathy, and concern for others. High school is a complex and often confusing experience, and Deerfield’s close community serves as a daily source of support and safety for our students.

Over the course of this school year in particular, healthy relationships, dating, sexuality, and consent will be addressed school-wide. On September 11, we’ll hold our first boys’ meeting and girls’ meeting in order to begin the conversation. On Wednesday, September 30th, educator Cindy Pierce will visit campus to talk with all students and faculty; the Class of 2019 will meet with Cindy separately in the Ninth-Grade Village. Additionally, advisory groups will gather to discuss these issues in smaller forums. Cindy will hold a webinar for parents shortly after her visit; you’ll receive an invitation to that event under separate cover.

Student health and safety are our highest priorities. Topics of sexuality and consent are not easy to discuss, but I hope you’ll join us–and the entire Deerfield community–as we continue that conversation. Thank you for your partnership and support in keeping our young people safe, and, as always, please contact us at either of the numbers below if you have additional questions or comments.

Margarita Curtis
Head of School

Amie Creagh
Dean of Students

 

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