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Pupils urged to report discrimination after Instagram page alleges incidents at Aberdeen school

Cults Academy.
Cults Academy.

Children are being urged to report discrimination, after an Instagram page was set up alleging numerous incidents of racism, sexism and homophobia at an Aberdeen school.

The Voices of Cults Instagram page says it aims to give pupils a “platform” and encourage them to speak out over issues at Cults Academy.

While the page has anonymously shared dozens of messages about claims of inappropriate behaviour, Aberdeen City Council has confirmed it has not received any such complaints.

The local authority vowed to investigate and take any complaints of discrimination involving staff or pupils “very seriously”, but said it cannot respond to anonymous online claims.

‘Zero-tolerance’

An Aberdeen City Council spokesman said: “We operate a zero-tolerance policy. All allegations of sexism, racism, homophobia, or any other form of discrimination within our schools, whether involving staff or pupils, are taken very seriously and investigated.

“Our central recording system shows no complaints of these types being raised directly with Cults Academy and we cannot respond to anonymous online claims.

“We would encourage anyone who feels they have been the victim of discrimination at any of our schools to contact us directly so we can investigate.”

‘Oppression and hate’

Voices of Cults says it is “dedicated to holding Cults Academy accountable for the oppression and hate that their minority students face every day”.

The account states: “We are a group of current and previous students who all have varying experiences of racism, queerphobia, transphobia, sexual harassment, misogyny and other forms of discrimination in Cults Academy.

“We want this Instagram account to be a place where people can share stories of their experiences at Cults.

“Things need to change.”

One post on the social media page talks about “casual racism and homophobia” at the school, while another makes a claim about “Islamophobic speech and racism”.

Another post says they were “harassed almost every day for my race and heritage”.

‘Overwhelming’

It adds: “It became so overwhelming I never wanted to even come to school.”

One message alleges a black member of staff was referred to as “George Floyd”.

Another message reads: “While I never personally experienced any form of discrimination during my time at Cults, I was constantly a witness to discriminatory harassment and micro-aggressions around me.”

In another post, a student claims she was touched inappropriately by another pupil, “grabbing” her thigh.

Councillor Tauqeer Malik, who represents the area, said: “I’m unaware of any problems relating to racism, sexism or any form of discrimination at Cults Academy.

“Of course, any pupil who has been a victim of any discrimination needs to report the specific incident to the School headmaster so that it can be properly investigated in line with the council protocols.”

Councillor Philip Bell, who also represents the ward, said: “Young people are very vulnerable at the best of times and this pandemic has exacerbated that vulnerability.

“Let’s all hope that the Scottish Government doesn’t change its mind, follows through with its current un-locking plans and everyone can get back to a semblance of normality.”

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