Preventing hate: poster competition promotes respect


Vivian Prouty’s winning poster

Cecily Spence, Staff Writer

On January 28, the Vermont Principals’ Association (VPA) announced the three winners of their Anti-Hate Poster Contest. The first-place poster from Vivian Prouty of Burr and Burton Academy will be hung at high school and middle school sporting events across the state. Burton will also receive a $100 prize. 

The contest description, which the VPA sent to all middle and high school students in Vermont read: “The poster is part of [the VPA’s] efforts to send a message that hate speech has no place in our athletic events. The goal is to remind/inspire fans to cheer appropriately.”

Prouty’s winning poster reads: “Support each other respectfully, on the playing field and in the stands.” It features a diverse group of graphically drawn students with a colorful pink, purple, and blue background.

The contest comes after reports of racism at sporting games across the state, including when SBHS spectators at an October girls volleyball game hurled racist insults at BHS JV players of color.

According to BHS Athletic Director Quaran Pinckney, the individual who made the remarks has since been removed from the cooperative SBHS/BHS Seawolves cheerleading team. They are also no longer allowed to attend sporting events for the “foreseeable future.”

The posters aim to combat incidents like this by creating a safe and respectful environment. 

We don’t want to forget what happened,

— Quaran Pickney


“The biggest thing we want from the poster contest is to make sure we shed light on some of the instances that have happened so far this year,” Pinckney, who helped develop the idea, said.

The VPA and  BSD have taken additional steps to prevent hate speech at sporting events, such as creating a log to record and track occurrences of it and reading a statement before all games condemning harm.

“I’ve heard the statement in about half of the games I’ve been to [this season],” Lily Hauser ‘24 said. “I really wish it was played more consistently because I really want the games to have a more positive environment.”

The statement forbids hate speech targeted at any of the protected categories. It also describes the possible consequences if the rules are not followed.

Anti Hate Poster Winner

It reads: “If behavior or hate speech of this kind is observed and/or reported, the officials will stop the event immediately to meet with the coaches and the site administrator about the next course of action. Possible outcomes of violating this expectation include An immediate ejection from the event, ending the event early and returning home, and possible forfeiture of the event or future events”

Hauser expressed hope for the VPA’s new procedures. 

“Although the measures may not yet be perfect, I hope it will make people take a step back and realize that that kind of language is rude and immature,” Hauser said.

Pinckney’s goal is for the new policies to help coaches and administrators learn how to prevent future hate speech and gain a better understanding of why it occurs.

“We don’t want to forget what happened,” Pickney said. “We want to take these instances as learning opportunities to get better at handling them.”