HRC was proud to host nearly two dozen educators and leaders from around the country for its annual Welcoming Schools National Facilitator Training. The training provides already highly-skilled facilitators l practice in delivering Welcoming Schools professional development across the country.

“We have amazing facilitators from across the country who have joined us for four days learning how to facilitate our Welcoming Schools modules to educators and other youth-serving professionals across the country,” said Welcoming Schools Director Johanna Eager.

This year marked the first time HRC Foundation’s Welcoming School is partnering on the training with the National Education Association, Equality Florida, SMYAL DC, the National SEED Project and the Utah State Board of Education, all of which sent representatives to become Welcoming Schools facilitators in their respective organizations.

“Everywhere I go throughout the state, educators are asking for tools and answers to their questions,” said participant Holly Bell, Equity Specialist with the Utah State Board of Education. “I’m hoping that through this training, I can provide more answers to help educators feel more comfortable addressing the real issues happening in their schools and the real diversity in their student populations.”

Over four days with HRC, participants covered the Welcoming Schools training modules and shared strategies and lessons learned from their work back home. For training participant Ez Rodríguez, the Safe and Healthy Schools Coordinator for Equality Florida - Pinellas, having the opportunity to learn from other educators was one of the most impactful parts of the week.

“Sometimes when we feel like we’re working in a silo in our own area, it’s really great to come together like this and have community,” Rodríguez said. “We’re learning together and can use the data and information that we have to make programming to support all of our LGBTQ youth.”

While Wanda Newman, a member volunteer facilitator of several curricula within the National Education Association’s Human and Civil Rights Department, has been a strong advocate for inclusive schools for many years, this training is an important part of her work to support students and educators alike.

“Our elementary school kids come from homes and communities where they see these issues every day -- but we just don’t talk about it at school. We hide it under a rug,” Newman said.

“But now it’s time for us to bring these issues out into the open to try to eliminate some of the inequalities that we suffer in this world,” Newman continued. “It’s about making a fair and a safe haven for everyone who’s in public education.”

HRC Foundation's Welcoming Schools is the nation's premier professional development program providing training and resources to elementary school educators to welcome diverse families; create LGBTQ and gender-inclusive schools; prevent bias-based bullying; and support transgender and non-binary students.


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