ASHA: Oppose Guns in Schools and Support Gun Reform Now
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In the wake of the mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, as educators and students use their voices to protect our schools, many school speech language pathologists and audiologists stand by and join these efforts. Many SLPs and audiologists (some of us parents of children who attend school) are concerned and disheartened by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association's recent post on gun control and arming teachers in schools.
In a recent Facebook post, ASHA alluded to concern for gun violence in schools, but stopped short of opposing arming teachers in schools or support for gun reform. While there are SLPs and audiologists along the entire political spectrum, this is ultimately a safety issue: Guns have no place in our schools. Since Columbine, there have been 25 fatal school shootings in the United States, with a total of 122 people killed, including children as young as six years old.
ASHA’s mission statement reads: Empowering speech language pathologists and advocating for members and those they serve. ASHA’s post falls short at a time when there is anguish and fear on the part of school SLPs and the children we serve, who are subjected to multiple lockdown drills per year. These drills can be very scary and confusing for children, especially children with disabilities, yet it has become a necessity, because of access to assault weapons in the United States. Gun control means safer schools. So what is ASHA truly advocating for? We cannot think of a single issue that takes precedence over people's lives, including speech language pathologists, audiologists, educators and staff, and the children we show up for everyday.
Gun violence impacts speech language pathologists, not in theory, but in reality. Sharonda Singleton was a speech language pathologist who was murdered in the Charleston church massacre on June, 17, 2015. Kortney Spencer, a school SLP, was injured at the beginning of the school year when she was shot in the leg at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas when a gunman opened fire on the concertgoers. There is no reason to believe they would have been any safer at school.
ASHA, please join other professional organizations who have spoken out in support of gun control and opposition to arming teachers, including National Education Association, National PTA, and National Association of School Psychologists, among others. ASHA’s statement needs to be unequivocally about protecting all of our members from disastrous policies and inaction that allow shootings like this to happen again and again. We need to hear that you oppose arming teachers and that you support gun control. ASHA code of ethics asks us to honor the responsibility to hold paramount the welfare of those we serve. We are doing our part to do so, ASHA. Now it’s your turn to do yours.
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