The Seattle Public School District has taken a big step to creating an inclusive and affirming environment for all students. The district recently passed a resolution calling for LGBTQ+ affirming curriculum and gender neutral restroom facilities.
"We are the first in Washington to mandate this for our curriculum," Zachary DeWolf, Seattle School Board President, tells Out. "Young people, LGBTQIA+ or not, deserve to see how broad and dynamic American history—which is inclusive of LGBTQIA+ history—truly is. Requiring LGBTQIA+ inclusive curriculum in Seattle Public Schools will positively impact our region today and seven generations into the future."
Among the changes announced are the addition of curriculum covering LGBTQ+ history and culture. The resolution calls specifically for exploring the addition of a dedicated “LGBTQIA+ history and culture course” to the district’s catalog of secondary school subjects.
"One of the best ways to overcome intolerance and nurture acceptance is through education—learning about different people and their experiences greatly improves the educational health of all students, while improving an LGBTQIA+ students’ sense of belonging and safety in our schools," DeWolf tells Out, noting the impact of the new curriculum.
The resolution also calls for new schools to include at least one gender-neutral bathroom, whether it be “a student single stall or multi-stall gender-neutral restroom,” while exploring the economic feasibility of adding similar facilities to existing schools. In addition, LGBTQ+ sensitivity training to teachers and other staff will be prioritized, and the district is exploring the possibility of renaming an existing school.
DeWolf told the Seattle Times to expect a yearlong process before a decision is made around a renaming, and only a handful of schools have expressed interest — including Mercer Middle School and Stevens Elementary School.
There have been many suggestions to date for a suitable new name, but DeWolf told the Times that two have come to the forefront: Marsha P. Johnson, the beloved activist who was at the forefront of queer liberation, and Cheryl Chow, a former Seattle Board member and principal who came out as lesbian in her 60s.