If you were to ask a group of children to draw a picture of their family, you would see a rainbow of images depicting single parents, same-sex couples, grandparents, and extended families living together.
That rainbow would also include a melting pot of hues and religions. As Early Childhood Educators, we want to ensure that our classrooms not only celebrate diversity but welcome it.
In this week's blog post, I am sharing highlights from my interview with Ash
Bell about LGBTQIA+ awareness and diversity in the classroom. Ash is the founder of the Rainbow Toolbox - a consulting company helping schools, businesses, and governments create safe spaces for LGBTQIA+.
How Would You Describe Yourself? I was raised in rural Texas in a very Christian family. Both of my parents were educators. My mom was a Pre-K teacher, and my dad was a Health Coach. In college, I attended Americorps, where I taught math and science. When I moved to Massachusetts, I taught after-school theater at a school in Greater Boston. As a non-binary person, I was always asked to assist with Cultural Responsiveness around LGBTQ+ inclusivity. When I was laid off due to the pandemic, I decided to step into this role full-time.
What is The Rainbow Toolbox? Through The Rainbow Toolbox, I offer diversity, equity, and inclusion training specifically focused on gender identity and sexual orientation. My clients are schools, businesses, theatre companies, and nonprofits.
Why Does LGBTQ+ Inclusiveness Necessary? I am an advocate of discussing facts with children. When we create environments that don't reflect the diversity of the world we live in, such as race, disabilities, and LGBTQIA+ individuals, we are sending a message that promotes exclusivity. We reinforce hetero stereotypes and other stereotypes around race and religion. We send a message that suggests heterosexuality is the norm and anything else is "different."
What Resources Are Available To Assist Early Childhood Educators in Creating Safe Environments? Handprints Publisher offers text that includes: different abilities, religions, and family structures. They can also learn more about my services by visiting my website.
How Do Educators Advocate For Inclusivity When Receiving Pushback? I am from rural Texas, so I understand pushback. There is legislation all across the United States that horrifies me! Despite this, there have been values and mission statements about inclusivity in every school that I've ever worked in. Inclusivity is a part of those mission statements. We can also seek resources like books that showcase different family structures, and lastly, educators can use more inclusive language when describing family structures and things like that.
Ash says that advocating for inclusiveness and awareness is about making our world more humane. "This is about humanity and how we have to stop punishing people for who they are and how they love".
To listen to the full interview, head over to The Morning Meeting Podcast. For more information about Ash:
Visit Ash on Instagram