They drew a circle that shut me out
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout
But love and I had the wit to win
We drew a circle and took them in¹
Edwin Markham, Outwitted
The “D” in DEI, standing for diversity, leaves some people with the impression that DEI focuses on differences, which only increases divisions between people. The “E” in DEI, standing for equity, leaves some people wondering why equality – treating everyone identically – is not what we should aim for. The “I” in DEI, standing for inclusion, leaves some people worried that their particular views and wishes might be pushed aside to make room for differences.
Some parents reading this have a child who is left-handed in a world built for people who are right-handed. These parents have every right to expect that their child will not be forced to learn to write or throw or eat with the hand that feels “right” for everyone else.
Some parents reading this have a child whose learning style diverges from the majority of students at their school. These parents have every right to expect that their child will not be teased or ostracized or labeled and treated as lazy or incompetent, and to expect that instead, their child will receive what they need to learn and thrive.
Some parents reading this have children who observe religious and/or cultural customs that are central to their sense of family and heritage but not recognized as a federal holiday or observance. These parents have every right to expect that their child will be released from homework and/or attending school while observing times of the year that are every bit as important as those observed by other students at school that happen to coincide with officially sanctioned time away from school.
Some parents reading this have a child whose appearance leads others to perceive them as a boy or a girl when in fact they identify differently from the assumptions made about them. These parents have every right to expect that their child’s gender identity will be honored no less than the gender identities of cisgendered² children.
Some parents reading this have a child who is seen and treated as a member of a social identity group that has historically been and continues to be disadvantaged and confronted with discrimination and even violence. These parents have every right to expect that their child will be provided with equitable protection, regard, encouragement, support, and love through policies, pedagogy, programs, people, and environments that reflect their worth and worthiness.
Every parent reading this has every right to expect that their child’s school understands the well-documented, empirically indisputable synergy between effectively fostering a sense of belonging and the skills of empathy and inclusion (DEI, Health & Wellness, and Social Emotional Learning pedagogy) and fostering intellectual curiosity, a love of learning, and mastery of academic subjects (academic excellence).
DEI at BDS is in the service of creating a common ground on which the differences that invigorate a community (diversity) can be recognized and honored (equity), and brought together in coalescence and coalition (inclusion).
¹ The gender binary terminology in Markum’s original construction of their wonderful poem has been revised to be inclusive of all possible readers.
² Descriptive of a person whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with their birth sex.