Bathroom Stall Vandalized with Anti-Semitic Symbol and Racial Slur

LHS property was found defaced with hateful symbols and words on Thursday, Dec. 1. A swastika, along with a racially offensive word targeted towards Black individuals, was discovered carved into the partition of a boy’s bathroom stall. Principal Matthew Sarosy sent out a letter to the Lynbrook community outlining steps the school will take in addressing the matter. In his weekly update to LHS students, Sarosy stated, “The Lynbrook Police were immediately notified and LHS is fully cooperating with their investigation.”  

In response to the matter, the social studies department was instructed to give students a lesson that consisted of a quotation from J.K. Rowling pertaining to being an upstander: “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” In an interview after the incident, Sarosy explained that this quotation meant that “even though we know right versus wrong, it can be such a challenge to stand up to our friends because it can risk a friendship.” If anything, Sarosy hopes that the quotation “elicits a response if any students have information regarding this specific incident.” 

Details of the incident were then shared with the students, as well as the actions being taken by the school. Additionally, a statement released by LHS administration was read aloud in every social studies class; some key points in the statement were as follows: “[T]he two messages of hate found yesterday have no place in Lynbrook High School. This cowardly action portrays the building inaccurately and should be condemned in the strongest possible ways [….] Despite this incident, LHS is a place that is filled with respect and acceptance. Continue to treat one another well and together we will stand against hate.” 

After the lesson given in social studies classes on Friday, Dec. 2, Government teacher John Cornicello remarked that he was disappointed about the incident: “I really thought that our students are better than this. It is so disheartening to hear about what happened, and incredibly upsetting to think that some of our students are not feeling welcomed at LHS.” 

“There’s also a sense of exasperation when hate symbols continue to appear in a place of education,” sophomore Gianna Longo commented. “The same location in which we learn about the Holocaust and the greater symbolism of the swastika just so happens to be the same place in which students are drawing the same symbols 80+ years later. It makes you say, ‘Really? Are you kidding me?’ We are learning that within the LHS community that we have ignorant people full of hate who are striving to incite terror among the people of our school.”

Time was also granted during social studies classes to allow students to talk about the incident, their reactions to it, or anything else about hateful symbols — their effect on society, and a recent uprise in antisemitism. “I honestly thought the world, and even our own community, would have moved past this by now,” remarked junior Olivia Lanteri, regarding an increase in antisemitism. “As for discrimination against African Americans, I think it’s awful,” expressed Lanteri. “We should be better as a nation after learning from our nation’s prejudiced past against African Americans. It seems not everyone has learned those lessons.” 

There are certainly students in this school being poisoned by alt-right media and extremist beliefs, even beliefs taught by their parents. I’m afraid we’re nearing a point where it will be difficult to reverse these mentalities,” expressed Longo.

“As a community, and as a country, we need to identify hate for what it is, and condemn it. We cannot allow hate to dictate our direction,” said Cornicello. 

“Anger and disappointment were my two initial reactions,” Sarosy expressed. “Angry because these symbols of hate still exist, and disappointed because someone brought them into our building. Every day, I observe so much kindness and acceptance around LHS, and it’s upsetting that hatred was brought inside.” 

Additionally, students partook in an exercise where they were encouraged to write a response to posed questions. Some of the questions include: How do you think hate symbols make others feel, especially those who are targeted by them? What impact do you think hate symbols and language have on our LHS community?

“LHS is a reflection of our community, and our community is a reflection of our society,” Sarosy explained. “Despite any societal issues, we work hard to make LHS a distraction-free environment where students are safe, comfortable, and can thrive.” 

“It is truly twisted that someone would not only think those things but carve them out,” explained junior Kerry Cullen. “I was disgusted that someone would ever do something like that.”

“I really believe that this is an amazing community to grow up in, and hope that incidents like what happened last week are few and far between,” Cornicello conveyed. 

There has been no new information regarding the individual behind this incident; however, the investigation will continue through the Lynbrook Police Department, the LHS faculty, and Lynbrook administration. “I urge any student who has a concern to come speak with a support staff member,” Sarosy expressed.