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We’ve told you about the University of Iowa’s Public Policy Center report detailing how the Iowa City Community School District needs to have a more enhanced inclusive curriculum.
It doesn’t end there.
Task force members discussed diversifying courses offered by offering classes on LGBTQ history or race, class and gender.
“They also stressed that these courses would be available to all students, serving the dual purpose of representing and validating the experiences of LGBTQ students, and educating non-LGBTQ students,” it says.
However, a prerequisite for adding “more inclusive courses” would include teacher training in empathy, anti-bullying and LGBTQ terminology and experiences, and clear district support.
Another goal is to make school libraries more LGBTQ-inclusive. And they don’t want a section of LGBTQ-related books in the library, they want the books scattered throughout the library.
“Task force members emphasized the importance of integrating (i.e. not a dedicated section) LGBTQ inclusive books in the library, to reinforce the idea that the materials are for all students, and not exclusive or targeted to students who identify as LGBTQ,” the report says.
ICCSD’s library probably is already in alignment with this strategy, according to the report.
Teachers were also a key point of emphasis in the report. Task force members anticipated that the fidelity of implementing an inclusive curriculum would vary by individual teachers, the report says, depending on factors such as “differing levels of efficacy and comfort discussing LGBTQ topics, or conflicting personal ideologies.”
To address that concern, the task force emphasized the importance of clear district support and teacher training to “facilitate the implementation of curriculum changes. Specifically, teacher training would be needed to ensure that all teachers are equipped to:
1. Be comfortable using LGBTQ related language effectively
2. Be familiar with LGBTQ concepts and issues
3. Understand the rationale for inclusion in class materials, and
4. Moderate classroom discussions stimulated by inclusive content in a culturally competent way.
The task force believes teacher hesitation to incorporate an LGBTQ inclusive curriculum is related to perceptions of unfavorable reception from certain parents or community members.
“Staff cannot opt out of curriculum components, and should be supported and trained to teach this material,” the report says.
Members of the task force suggested teachers encourage students to think about whose voices are represented in readings, and whose are missing.
“A concern was expressed that if teachers do not have a foundational understanding of social justice, ensuring the implementation quality and consistency of this strategy would be difficult,” the report says. “A prerequisite of this approach would be to provide empathy and LGBTQ terminology training and support to teachers.”
That said, improving educator knowledge and skills is critical.
Workshops, webinars and trainings were recommended for staff.
“Professional development workshops and trainings include opportunities such as Safe Zone Trainings, which are designed to teach participants about LGBTQ+ identities, gender and sexuality, and unlearn prejudice,” the report states.
And these trainings apply to K-12 teachers. Oh, and not just teachers. But also coaches, paraeducators, counselors, etc. The workshops should be an annual event, the report adds.
In addition, one task force member suggested the speaker making announcements at school say “this week, we are thinking about (health, bullying, gender, home, lunch, etc.) and we want to know what you think. Your three questions are… please have your submissions in via email by (day of the week).”
The report states it would be a good way to understand what needs should be addressed.