North Bay

Junior High School Boys in the Middle of Yearbook Controversy

A group of North Bay students are in the middle of a controversy over a junior high yearbook after they appear to be making a gesture that some say is a symbol of white supremacy.

Members of the Kenilworth Junior High School basketball team in Petaluma say the hand gestures represent a symbol called "the circle game," however, that same gesture represents a hate symbol.

Though the Petaluma Joint Union High School District isn’t sure if the boys intended it, they said it was wrong and they plan to fix it.

"It’s a teachable moment for the school district," said Zahrya Garcia from the Sonoma County Human Rights Commission. "Countless lives have died at the hands of hate, don’t miss out on this opportunity."

The team’s explanation was that it was to represent a popular game that even has its own memes. In the circle game, you make a gesture and if you get another person to look at it, you get to punch that person in the shoulder.

Student Dylan Rodriguez sided with the students’ explanation but since the district said they aren’t sure, they are doing something about it.

"We’re talking about a picture that’s in a formal setting such as a team picture for your book. We expect no hand signals at all so any signals in that situation or inappropriate," said Dave Rose from the Petaluma Joint Union High School District. "This incident combined with a few in the last 18 months or so gives us the information that we probably need to take a look at what’s happening," Rose said.

Part of that look will be a community-based plan to let all students know their actions can sometimes have unintended consequences.

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