ICYMI: Washington International School Makes History as First Elementary and Secondary School to Receive HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools Award for LGBTQ+ Inclusion

by Jared Todd

WASHINGTON — On Friday, June 14, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC Foundation)’s Welcoming Schools program awarded Washington International School (WIS) the Seal of Excellence for their exemplary work in establishing welcoming, inclusive learning environments for their students and families. WIS, which serves students in grades preK-12, is one of only three schools to receive the award this year and is the first school in the nation at both the elementary and secondary levels to ever receive this recognition in the history of the Welcoming Schools program.

The work to create inclusive classrooms and affirming learning environments has never been more important. Schools like Washington International are leading the way and ensuring that school policies and curriculum reflect the diversity of all children and families. As we meet with teachers and other youth-serving professionals throughout the country, we’re seeing an ever-growing interest in anti-bullying training and how to incorporate a more inclusive curriculum that affirms all children for who they are. One of the most important things we can do for our youth today is to make sure they’re safe and loved in school so that all they need to worry about is learning and achieving their dreams."

Cheryl Greene, HRC Foundation's Sr. Director of Welcoming Schools

Some highlights of the work WIS has done to achieve the Seal of Excellence include:

  • Starting a primary school affinity group for LGBTQ+ families that provides a safe, supportive space for connection and community.

  • Parent sessions that focus on how to affirm and support LGBTQ+ kids.

  • On the secondary level, WIS has enacted policies to include transgender participation schoolwide, including on sports teams and in locker rooms.

  • Incorporating Welcoming Schools lesson plans into curriculum, in both English and Spanish.

  • Established a middle school Pride Club.

Welcoming Schools with their fantastic facilitators and their constant commitment to understand our community, have given us the opportunity to create brave spaces for our faculty and staff to have courageous conversations."

Aldaine Wynter, WIS Director of International-Mindedness, Diversity, and Inclusion

HRC President Kelley Robinson also gave remarks as part of Friday’s ceremony, including the following:

“What we do today has an impact three generations from now. And when I think about me and my family…Because of you in this room, so much is going to be possible for my kid because of what you do each day. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you, thank you.”
“You are showing leadership and resolve in what’s possible when we work together. When we commit to creating a school where all students…can thrive.”
“As a parent, thank you for showing me what’s possible in our education when it comes to people coming together to make sure that our kids are not only learning the best content and curriculum, but becoming whole people in the process.”

The HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools program is the leading national PK-12 educator training and bias based bullying prevention program supporting LGBTQ+ students, families, and youth-serving professionals. Despite the wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, like book bans and classroom censorship, we’ve seen across the country, this year alone the program has provided training to 13,000 educators nationwide, impacting around 750,000 students each day.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) people. Through its programs, the HRC Foundation seeks to make transformational change in the everyday lives of LGBTQ+ people, shedding light on inequity and deepening the public’s understanding of LGBTQ+ issues, with a clear focus on advancing transgender and racial justice. Its work has transformed the landscape for more than 15 million workers, 11 million students, 1 million clients in the adoption and foster care system and so much more. The HRC Foundation provides direct consultation and technical assistance to institutions and communities, driving the advancement of inclusive policies and practices; it builds the capacity of future leaders and allies through fellowship and training programs; and, with the firm belief that we are stronger working together, it forges partnerships with advocates in the U.S. and around the globe to increase our impact and shape the future of our work.

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