Posted on October 15, 2021

Prestigious DC School Poised To Crack Down on ‘Harmful’ Humor

Aaron Sibarium, Washington Free Beacon, October 12, 2021

Students at one of the oldest and most prestigious boys schools in the United States could soon face expulsion for a single “misplaced” joke, according to a draft “anti-bias” policy circulating among school administrators and obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

St. Albans, whose alumni include vice presidents and two current U.S. senators, is considering a crackdown on “harmful” speech that prioritizes the impact of the speech rather than the intent of the speaker.

“It is the impact of hate speech, rather than the intent of those perpetrating it, that is of utmost importance,” the draft policy states. As such, boys could be expelled “even in the case of a single expression, act, or gesture”—including “misplaced humor,” which the policy says “should be reported immediately to the student’s adviser.”

Reporting infractions would fall to students, teachers, and parents. “We also expect that anyone, whether student, faculty, staff, or family member, who witnesses, or has knowledge of an incident of hate speech, will report the incident to the appropriate individual,” the draft policy reads, clarifying that nobody will be punished for making “a good faith report.”


Speech codes are increasingly de rigueur at elite private schools like St. Albans, where an ever-expanding crop of diversity professionals has institutionalized an ever-expanding definition of “hate.” That definition is enforced by bias reporting systems—often created in response to diversity audits—that encourage students to flag insensitive speech for school administrators. At St. Mark’s School in Massachusetts, for example, students can report their peers anonymously via an online form, set up in 2020 as part of the school’s “antiracist action plan.”

Now, even the most old-fashioned of these schools are becoming fluent in the language of left-wing identity politics. St. Albans—which refers to Hispanic students as “Latinx,” has replaced Columbus Day with “Indigenous People’s Day,” sponsors an “Alliance of White Antiracists,” and costs over $50,000 a year—is often seen as more conservative than its co-ed counterparts. Boys must wear formal attire and attend weekly Anglican chapels, whose liturgy one alum described as “traditional.” Lunch is served family-style in a 100-year-old dining hall called “the Refectory,” which the school rents out for private dinners.