A school in Gaston County, North Carolina,
Jennifer Thompson, a mother of a first-grade student at Hershal H Beam Elementary School, noticed the word “gook” on a spelling list her daughter had brought home.
Gook is a racially disparaging term used to refer to a native of Southeast Asia.
In an interview with the Gaston Gazette, Thompson noted how she talked to her 6-year-old girl about the problematic term.
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“We had to explain to Emily why she could not say the word and not to use it,” Thompson was quoted as saying.
When she contacted her daughter’s teacher on Wednesday, she was told that the racial slur was incidentally just among the similar sounds, such as “look” and “took,” that the students were studying.
“They said they were going off the word sounds and not necessarily the meanings,” Thompson said.
Gaston County Schools spokesman Todd Hagans further dismissed the incident as merely “an oversight by the teacher” and that “she never meant to be insensitive.”
Nonetheless, Hagans promised that the slur will no longer appear in spelling lists in the future. Thompson said her child would not be penalized for skipping the word on the test.