Inclusive Education: From Crayons to the Cubicle
Last week left me feeling a little confused. The education and awareness campaign, No-Name Calling Week (which we highlighted) conflicted with messages I heard when a California ruling said private schools could expel LGBT students. How can we, as a nation, teach young minds the importance of equality when we communicate contradicting messages?
GLSEN reports that 9 out of 10 LGBT students (86.2%) experienced harassment at school in the past year. Furthermore, the organization released a report in mid-January studying the unique challenges students of color face in the classroom and on the playground. Across all groups, sexual orientation and gender expression were the most common reason LGBT students of color felt unsafe at school. This victimization leads to poor grades, low self-esteem, and anxiety from feeling unsafe and experiencing harassment. To download the full report, click here. Oppression as a result of race, class, religion, and/or sexual orientation constructs barriers to the success of individuals and the community.
In the workplace, we have repeatedly stressed the importance of acceptance, inclusion, and visibility of the LGBT community. Workplace diversity is about people — people focused on embracing differences to achieve a common goal. If these messages aren’t reaching students, classroom structures, and districts, ignorance and bigotry will continue to cultivate in the workplace. Thus, if we are able to instill messages of inclusion in our children today, our next generation of the workforce will exhibit an improved morale, outside-the-box thinking, greater teamwork, and an atmosphere of mutual understanding and respect.
The solution? Not sure if I have one, but I do have an idea – coalition building, key opinion leader outreach, and grassroots outreach. What if corporations’ diversity programs and initiatives developed an advisory panel on a nationwide level to stress the importance of diversity and inclusion training in school curriculum and structure, then discussed the negative effects “intolerance” has in the workplace? This highly visible advisory council begins to create a dialogue amongst themselves, with nonprofit organizations aimed at diversity education, and with both traditional and online media. Through a concerted effort, they reach out to school districts across the nation to disseminate a message of the necessity of inclusion education.
What are your thoughts on inclusive education in schools and its effects on the workplace?
Originally posted: Feb 2, 2009