Editor’s Note, May 19, 2017: The public Facebook posts are no longer available on Facebook.
Earlier this week, Tanya Hernandez of Valley, Alabama, posted the following public Facebook post about gag awards that were being giving at the Valley High School band banquet:
The post made Raw Story on Wednesday and is just starting to make the social media rounds. It has also sparked a public debate on Hernandez’s Facebook page that provided more details about the incident. While most of the comments expressed outrage about the gag awards, the following thread contained some more details:
Amanda Duffey Benson: I don’t think of any of the kids last night were pointing out anything to be hurtful. Those awards were exactly what they said “gag awards” and meant in fun and not to hurt people’s feelings. This being said, we have been doing gag awards at the Senior’s band banquet for over 20 years. It has never caused this trouble. My grandson is the one who gave this award and I know with all my heart he did not say anything to hurt your children. They cut up so much with each other that we don’t know what they say when we are not around. Kids say things and do wrong. They voted on these gag awards weeks ago so your children knew. There was plenty of time to stop if they were offended. I’m sorry your feelings were hurt and really don’t know what to say because it was not intentional. I didn’t get offended because he got award for BFFs and the gifts were for females. Kids were just being kids….
Amanda Duffey Benson And let me say one more thing, Mr. Chandler and Mrs. Deloach are the most caring teachers you could ever find. They treat our band kids like their own. They would never do anything to hurt our kids. I’m tired of high school drama and thank God it’s about to be over for me.
Amanda Duffey Benson: Been there too, he was hard on my daughter, but you know what….sometimes you have to be hard on teenagers to get them to do their work and prepare for band. Can you imagine having over 100 kids to control?
Shirley Austin Aaron: I’m sorry, but that’s BS. I don’t care HOW they were intended. It was still shameful and disgraceful. And it doesn’t matter if it’s been done for centuries. Wrong is wrong. Tradition doesn’t make a wrong a right. If those so-called gag awards offend one single individual, they should be stopped. Use hateful, nasty, racist crap in the privacy of your own home. Don’t use a public institution that’s supported by tax payers’ money to exhibit racism, meanness, and intolerance. If adults can’t supervise children like adults, instead of like bullying children themselves, then, they should not be a party to any decision that’s made regarding the treatment of children. It was shameful, and if anyone has a problem recognizing the shame of it, that individual has a problem and should not have a part in making adult decisions.
Tanya Hernandez: This post is not because it offended my children Amanda, nor is this post because my feelings are hurt…This post is because it was tacky, racist, and humiliating for most!!(Maybe the award Your child received didn’t offend him,but I’m sure there are some that could have had it been just the right one) This post is from me and my disappointment and my disgust and I’m sure from any other Mexican/American receiving a bucket and pail to “dig across the border” in those exact words,or a black receiving a stem of cotton would have been just as offended by placing them in a degrading category!! Even thinking it can be excused by “all in fun” or “not meant to hurt” makes way to light of it, and makes me even more angry at how we look at publicly degrading our students- other children. This isn’t drama.. I hate drama! This is reality of our society! Another note, maybe no one spoke up is why it’s never been brought up, but not because it wasn’t an issue..
Amanda Duffey Benson: I don’t like a lot of the things that have been done in the past. I agree. I do not like my grandson being singled out as presenting this award. Was it his idea? Heck, I don’t know. All I know is they came up with the gags weeks ago and the band members voted. Did the boys not tell you about this prior to last night?
Amanda Duffey Benson: The right thing to do was to go to the band directors and tell them instead of blowing it up on facebook. That would have been the adult thing to do!
Tanya Hernandez: No, they did not tell me but again this is not about their outlook on whether it’s right or wrong. It’s my place as the mother to teach them. Not everyone can handle the jokes or gags- that’s why we have children committing suicide or other children taking it even further than just the banquet. This is not aimed or singling your grandson Amanda. I didn’t even know he was in charge to tell you the truth.
A few hours her first post, Hernandez posted this on her public Facebook wall:
Latino Rebels has contacted the Chambers Country School District to see if it will comment about Hernandez’ social media posts and what happened at the banquet.
UPDATE, May 21, 2017: Gag awards are no longer, according to Hernandez: