Post submitted by Kimmie Fink, Welcoming Schools Consultant

HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools is proud to support Black Lives Matter at School -- an incredible week of action dedicated to centering the experiences and stories of Black students. From February 4-8, educators across the country will come together to call on schools to hire more Black teachers and counselors, to teach Black history and to end “zero tolerance” discipline policies, severe and punitive practices that disproportionately impact students of color. The Black Lives Matter at School movement urges educators, students, families and community members to engage in lessons, events, creative challenges and other supportive actions to affirm the lives of Black children.

Data from HRC Foundation’s 2018 LGBTQ Youth Report underscores the urgent need for schools to support Black LGBTQ students. According to the survey:

  • Only 35 percent of Black LGBTQ youth say they can “definitely” be themselves in school;
  • Just 32 percent of Black LGBTQ youth always feel safe in the classroom;
  • And 40 percent of Black LGBTQ youth say they have been bullied on school property within the last 12 months.

Welcoming Schools is committed to the work of racial justice in schools. Addressing inequity, including unreasonable discipline, non-inclusive curricula and teacher bias, is a key component of our team’s work.

“The Welcoming Schools program is committed to addressing individual and systemic bias in elementary schools -- where bias and bullying begin,” said Johanna Eager, Welcoming Schools program director. “As such, Welcoming Schools is alway examining our materials, developing new resources and making programmatic decisions to make sure they reflect the most current best practices and reaffirm our deep commitment to intersectional inclusion.”

You can easily participate in Black Lives Matter at School using several Welcoming Schools’ resources. Welcoming Schools’ recommended book lists are inclusive of Black characters, perspectives, authors and illustrators. The program also recently launched a new intersectionality training module, which helps educators to recognize and honor all of their students’ differences and identities in order to create school systems and climates that are equitable. Elementary school educators are encouraged to download and teach the free Welcoming Schools lesson “Do You See Yourself in Books?”, which helps students understand the importance of seeing their identity -- and the identities of others -- in books and stories

When educators understand intersectionality as a framework for serving students’ whole selves, they can mitigate and even remove conditions that lead to the disproportionate representation of youth of color in the school-to-prison pipeline. This year, let’s show up in force to support Black students, teachers and families and challenge the structures and systems that stand in the way to their success .

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;
  • Support transgender and non-binary students.

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