In 2011 GLSEN published the New York Schools Climate survey snapshot, which demonstrated that New York schools were not safe for many LGBT students. One particularly alarming piece of data states that 23% of schools featured an LGBT inclusive curriculum.
In another study, Anderson and Metzger (2011) analyzed four different states' representation of African American history within K-12 education. They reported the following,
'The analysis finds that the reviewed standards devote considerable space to African Americans during the formation and development of the United States, but the nature of this inclusion is typically superficial and tends to trivialize the systemic institutional contexts of slavery and racial hierarchy. The standards also typically do not engage students in cognitively demanding historical thinking processes and avoid engaging students in critical analysis of historical racial tensions in order to promote a consensus narrative of social cohesion and national development. While the standards cannot be faulted on the grounds of numeric inclusion of African American names and events, they do not substantively promote critical thinking about the construction of racialized identities and their role in the political, economic, social, and cultural contexts of U.S. history.'
Parents who acknowledge that racial disparities still exist want the world to become more equitable and more peaceful. Parents want their children to value diversity. However, racial inequality remains an uncomfortable topic of conversation. In order to prepare children for the responsibility of peace building, they need to understand and think critically about racism, past and present. For this to happen, children must be introduced to the facts of history. Most importantly, they need to have honest discussions when they see evidence of that history playing out in their schools and communities.
Jennifer Harvey's article, For Whites (Like Me): On White Kids introduces ideas that encourage conversation, rather than closing possibilities of honest exchange behind the facade of 'everyone being equal.' While many adults grew up hearing this message from parents and grandparents, the reality was that everyone was not treated equally, and the disconnect continues to this day.
Vincent Gordon Harding, a prominent civil rights activists states,
'It is tempting to latch onto the concept of (MLK's) 'the dream' and leave the past behind, but to become mature as a nation, we need to honestly acknowledge the past on both a personal and collective level. We must not be overcome by the past but must deal with hit with utmost honesty and, at the same time, embrace a hopeful view of the future This is the only way that the dream can be meaningful and authentic as we continue to create a new present that leads to a transformed future.'
In order to feature inclusive curriculums, teachers and parents must courageously embark on honest conversation. When this happens, paths to inclusion will open. Teachers can introduce role models of diverse backgrounds to their students. Students will ask difficult questions which will lead to critical reflection and discussion. These difficult conversations can provide much needed healing for everyone involved.