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Allegations of monkey sounds, racial slurs uttered at high school basketball game

Disturbing allegations of racial slurs stemmed from a high school basketball game between Orchard Park and Southwestern.

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Madison Stevenson is a senior basketball player at Orchard Park High School. On Monday evening, while playing an away game at Southwestern, she had to endure some in the student section making monkey sounds as she was at the foul line.

Her mother, Deana Stevenson, was at the game and witnessed it firsthand.

"They were making monkey calls, they were making inappropriate calls and in reference to her. My daughter was the only person of color playing on either team, and it was offensive," Stevenson said.

Stevenson, an educator and former principal, said she was called the N-word by someone at the game, among other names.

"These are high school students and there were enough adults in the gymnasium to address the behavior and no one did anything," Stevenson said.

Stevenson made a Facebook post and reported the incident to school officials the following day. Tuesday evening is when she said she got a response from Southwestern that it was looking into the matter.

Southwestern has acknowledged publicly they are reviewing this case:

  • The Southwestern District received information on Tuesday, December 7, 2021 regarding a reported incident at the Southwestern Girls Basketball game against Orchard Park. We take these allegations very seriously and immediately commenced a full investigation, which is currently ongoing.

    When the District was made aware of the allegations, we reached out to Orchard Park administration and will continue to communicate with them throughout the investigation.

    The Southwestern District is committed to equity and acceptance of all students. This type of conduct has no place in our District, and if it occurred, we will take swift action to address it.  Nonetheless, at this time, we will not make any public comment on allegations related to the conduct of students. 

Orchard Park has expressed disappointment that this incident happened involving one of its players. In a statement on its website, it posted:

  • A school district has no greater duty than ensuring the safety and welfare of its students.  The Orchard Park Central School District was made aware of an incident during a girls varsity basketball game this past Monday evening where the opponent's fans were allegedly directing racial slurs and sounds toward one of our student athletes.  The Orchard Park Central School District has been in close contact with the District that hosted the game and is working with the District and Section VI to address this concern.

    Racial slurs and harassment have no place in our District and will not be tolerated.  We must build upon a foundation of diversity, equity, and inclusion.  We will continue to support our students and families to ensure the above foundational pieces are front and center in the Orchard Park Central School District.  We are hopeful that in the future, through education and greater understanding, these types of incidents will not occur.

Madison has been receiving apologies from Southwestern students and complete strangers according to her mother. However, Stevenson wants to make sure this does not continue to happen.

"I want people to know that in 2021 we still have incidents like this. People are being muzzled  and silenced and it is time to just speak up about incidents like this so they don't happen again," she said.

Madison will attend Howard University next fall on scholarship.