Select Page

WELCOME HERE

It’s Pink Shirt day at The Park School! Coordinated by our GSA and their advisors, this day invites all Park School community members to wear a pink shirt on Friday to raise awareness of bullying and bullying behavior. It is a campaign to promote kindness and to encourage us all to be Upstanders (people who take action when they see injustices). 

Pink Shirt day also helps to challenge our preconceived notions of gender and gender stereotyping. Traditionally, our society has encouraged the belief that the color pink is reserved for girls. Making Pink Shirts a universal campaign means that we are also challenging gendered stereotypes of who can wear pink or what pink says about who we are.

Though we teach kindness, inclusion, and being an upstander in our academic and social curriculum, it is timely that we are talking about kindness, anti-bullying and being an upstander related to current events. (I’m also recently inspired by Ms. Barre, Social Studies teacher who just came to talk to me about Title IX and the current events timeline she is leading in class!) 

Just a few days ago, the White House rescinded protections for transgender students that had allowed them to use bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity. The national “bathroom debate” had previously included forcing individuals to use bathrooms that aligned with their gender at birth and prohibiting bathroom use based on gender identity. In the wake of that debate, we had heard of many instances where individuals – who were both transgender and not transgender – were harassed in public bathrooms. We also heard from young people about the impact of the bathroom debate. 

The Park School has a history of commitment to LGBTQ families and issues. Over the years, we have deepened our knowledge of, awareness of, and commitment to individuals and groups who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTQ). We, at Park, are clear about our commitment to the safety, security, and inclusion of LGBTQ individuals and families. And, we, more specifically, support members of our community who identify as transgender.

At Park School, we talk openly about both gender stereotypes and gender identity. Our classroom teachers include books, discussions and resources that affirm the lives and contributions of LGBTQ people and communities. And, we take both an active and proactive approach to making sure that people who identify as LGBTQ know they belong here at Park. We are committed to the continued and on-going education of our faculty and staff as we shape a more inclusive school community. We are committed to having dialogues in our parent and family community to support families who identify as LGBTQ and of diversity of family structures. We take actionable steps to affirm our commitment to the larger LGBTQ community through our support of a GSA and our participation in the Boston PRIDE parade. The Park School continues to provide single-user, non-designated bathrooms available in our buildings, and we provide windows-and-mirrors related to gender and gender identity. 

We realize that education is a process. And, when we hear words or phrases that disparage people who identify as LGBTQ or communities that identify as LGBTQ, we are prepared to address and educate about these comments. In our earliest ages, we teach our students to participate in kindness, to stand up for themselves and for others, and to shape a school community where everyone belongs. Because there is a spectrum of commitment and beliefs around issues related to LGBTQ communities, we also encourage respectful approaches to disagreeing and to civil discourse, knowing that we have a diversity of families, beliefs, positions, and views. 

Further, some parents may simply not know how to talk about diverse families, LGBTQ families or issues impacting the LGBTQ community. We invite you to visit our library and check out some of our great books that speak to these issues. We invite you to check out Dr. Jennifer Bryan‘s blog, a writer and educator focused on developmentally appropriate lessons on gender spectrum and gender stereotypes. Dr. Bryan visited The Park School in 2015-2016 to work with our faculty, parents/families, and students. 

Here is also a great video for parents about how to talk to their children about gender, based on the book “Who Are You? The Kids’ Guide to Gender.” It’s also a great primer for us adults who might struggle with how to use kid-friendly language about gender. 

For a bit more reading, here is the May 2016 release from the U.S. Justice Department about protecting people who are transgender in our schools. 

And, here is the “Dear Colleague” letter released Feb 22, 2017. 

In alignment with inclusive practices, we at The Park School take pride in three important action items:

  • We educate ourselves and our students in developmentally appropriate ways about gender, gender identity, stereotypes, and inclusion.
  • We provide safety, security and privacy of all people and align ourselves with practices of non-discrimination related to bathroom use. 
  • We uphold the rights of people who identify as transgender, particularly the right to use the restroom like every one else in our community. 

We are grateful for the activism of our students in our GSA, their coordinators, and our larger Park School community as we encourage kindness, inclusion, equity and belonging. And, we look forward to Pink Shirt Day at Park!

You are welcome here. 

Peace and Park, 

Dr. T