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Seattle Schools will add curriculum requirements for queer history and select a ‘LGBTQI+ hero’ to honor with school name change

(Image: Seattle Public Schools)

Seattle School Board president Zachary DeWolf points out a Seattle media oversight this Pride weekend.

As the COVID-19 restricted year has moved into summer break, Seattle Public Schools has committed to a slate of initiatives including ensuring at least one gender-neutral restroom in all school construction projects, opening up the district curriculum process to add LGBTQIA+ history and other underrepresented histories, and an effort to honor a to be determined “LGBTQI+ local or national hero” that might just be of interest to the community at Capitol Hill’s Stevens Elementary.

Here’s DeWolf on the resolution (PDF) passed by his board:

No local media has covered this—even during #Pride month—but we passed my transformational and historic resolution “No. 2019/20-28 – Inclusion for Our LGBTQIA+ Students, Staff, and Community,” which commits the District to the following (policy changes in process):
 All school construction projects must include one multi-stall gender-neutral restroom
 An audit of our 104 schools to identify space available for gender-neutral restroom conversion
 All curriculum adoptions (history, English language arts, etc) must explicitly incorporate LGBTQIA+ history, contributions, significant events and figures
 One school will be identified to change their school name to that of an LGBTQI+ local or national hero
 Exploration and pilot of an LGBTQIA+ studies high school course
✊🏽🏳️‍🌈 Happy #Pride to all of our students, their families, our staff and educators, and community

DeWolf tells CHS the resolution is historic for the city’s schools from a LGBTQ standpoint but also will also enable the addition of important requirements around more histories including Black and Indigenous people.

For the school board president, the resolution represents a new effort to be explicit in the district’s goals.

“We all totally get it,” DeWolf said. “But, in fact, when we’re not explicit that’s when a lot of endemic problems surface.”

With Seattle Pride 2020 moving online, the history component of the resolution, by the way, might make for good launch points for some Pride weekend reading:

DeWolf says the naming component of the resolution will move forward with a process for the district to select a person to honor and inviting school communities around the city to request the name change.

The effort to change a SPS campus name to honor the to be determined LGBTQI+ hero could be of interest for the parents and community at Isaac I. Stevens School:

In the early 1900s, people were attracted to the north end of Capitol Hill because of Volunteer Park, which was named for the volunteers who fought in the Spanish-American War of 1898. In 1904, the school board purchased a site for a future North Capitol Hill School. Two years later, the school was named for Isaac Ingalls Stevens, the first Territorial Governor of Washington.

Here’s the Wikipedia version of the Stevens legacy:

He was a controversial and polarizing figure as governor of the Washington Territory, where he was both praised and condemned. He was described by one historian as the subject of more reflection and study than almost the rest of the territory’s 19th-century history combined. Stevens’ marathon diplomacy with Native American tribes sought to avoid military conflict in Washington; however, when the Yakama War broke out as Native Americans resisted European encroachment, he prosecuted it mercilessly. His decision to rule by martial law, jail judges who opposed him, and raise a de facto personal army led to his conviction for contempt of court, for which he famously pardoned himself, and a rebuke from the President of the United States. Nonetheless, his uncompromising decisiveness in the face of crisis was both applauded by his supporters and noted by historians.

Now, goals of the Stevens PTA’s race and social equity committee might align with the district’s new initiative.

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16 thoughts on “Seattle Schools will add curriculum requirements for queer history and select a ‘LGBTQI+ hero’ to honor with school name change

  1. As my kid matures in middle school I spend time talking to her to give her pride in herself. You were born a girl. That means sometimes life will suck being a girl – boys have more opportunities, men can be overbearing jerks and you will have to deal with them. Society will have expectations that are not in sync with how you feel about yourself. But you be strong. Be strong. Be proud of your body, be proud of who you are, feel comfortable in your body. It’s beautiful. I understand not everyone feels that but I wonder how much psychology at this age plays into amplifying discomfort. I realize this is not a discussion that may not go well here. In school she introduces herself by her chosen pronoun already barely age 11. I feel everyone should be comfortable in their body and not everyone is.

    • Thanks for sharing that. I really am fed up with females increasingly being marginalized by the crowd with the bullhorn bullies who believe they are entitled to encroach on female spaces because they have a “feeling” of what they think it is to be a woman. This town in particular includes so many handmaidens who are more than happy to enable these invasions. For as much as these same people scream about their “erasure,” they have no problem doing the same to females and, especially, lesbians.

      > “In school she introduces herself by her chosen pronoun already barely age 11.”

    • Yes. My 10yo came home one day last fall to tell me that he’d learned at school that he’s “gender neutral” because he likes to wear his hair long. Um, no – he’s a perfectly contented boy who likes to wear his hair long. I thought we’d gotten past the kind of retro gender policing that says you can’t be a boy if you have long hair. Maybe let kids be who they are and stop trying to define it for them?

      • Sad story. Consistent with how the term gender identity is presented to my kid in school as well- full of stereotype. You had strength to shut down that bs with kindness – not all parents will.

      • Sad story. Consistent with how the term gender identity is presented to my kid in school as well- full of stereotype. You had strength to shut down that bs with kindness – not all parents will.

  2. I loudly applaud the Seattle school system for teaching consent to middle schoolers. Here seems as good a place as any however to provide some criticism about the approach – as too PC and a bit removed from most reality. My major criticisms:
    1. Their teaching of consent teaches mealy-mouthed ways of saying ‘no’. Way too much emphasis on being ‘nice’ when you say ‘no.’
    2. Their worksheet example on refusing consent involves two males. I understand consent is an issue between men. But the major issues in our society today – at least from a population perspective, meaning the most people affected – with consent involve predatory boys who do not understand consent and girls who are conditioned to be ‘nice’. I do not know if this curriculum will help my daughter so I had to tell her to just tell some guy to go to hell if he pressures her. That said, please hone this curriculum and make it stronger, but keep on teaching consent! I am glad the schools are doing it!!!

    Refusal: Tell Them Why Not

    Use “I” statements because doing so takes the judgmental tone out of the refusal (“I’m not ready to do that” rather than “You jerk, how could you think I would do something like that?”).

    “I’m not ready.”
    “I don’t feel like it.”
    “I don’t want to rush into anything.”
    “I don’t want to get pregnant or get an STD.”
    “Our parents are coming back soon, I don’t want to get caught.”
    “I feel like I’m getting a cold, and I don’t want to get you sick.”

    The approach of giving an alternative makes it clear that the behavior is being rejected, not the person who asked. It shows them that you still want to be their friend/partner.

    “Let’s go outside and talk.”
    “I’d like to finish watching the movie with you.”
    “Why don’t you teach me to play that new video game.”
    “I want to cuddle instead.”
    “I would like to spend some time/talk with you.”

    Sometimes pressure is very difficult to resist. If so, it may be easier to leave the scene. Sometimes it’s possible to join another group or to walk into another room. Other times it may be easier to get away from the whole scene.

    “I’ve got to go now, but I will call you when I get home.”
    “I have to be home in fifteen minutes or my mom will freak out.”
    “I’m going to Zayd’s house, I hope to see you there.”

    WORKSHEET Jordan: I really like you. I know we decided not to have sex, but I just don’t think we will ever get the chance to be alone again. I think we should do it before my parents get home.


    Jordan: Really? Wow, I thought you liked me. Come on, I want to show you how much I like you.


    Jordan: But this is our one chance. When are we ever going to be alone again? I know we will like it.


    Jordan: Come on…please please please? I won’t tell anyone.


  3. I wrote the two above criticisms above but overall I have so much relief and pride that we have come so far. When I was in school our gay kids were closeted and our gay teachers were. We have come so far. But I still feel we can work on getting things right for our kids.

  4. How does he still have a job after failing to make sure Seattle kids have the basics like a computer, internet and access to remote learning for the last 4 months ? For reasons of equity we will provide nothing to everybody. Great plan.

    Perhaps focus on the basics before we get to this stuff. Or find new leadership ?

    • You are so misguided. It’s far more important for children to have memorized a long list of transgendered activists then to have the tools to gain skills and knowledge that will help them function in the real world against other children who are actually learning things like math, technology, science, language, history. But our school district has decided as more important for them to learn that gender is a social construct. And I agree.
      And yes I’m being sarcastic.

  5. It doesn’t matter really since distance learning is a complete mess, so it’s unlikely kids will actually learn anything including this proposal. Ironic. Oh, and the poor will be even less likely to learn it since they don’t have internet.

  6. I am a gay non white male, brown skinned mixed race Latino. If I had children, I would move to Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Bothell, Woodinville, etc because those districts value education. Why do you think so many immigrants from India and China who work for Microsoft and Amazon live there?

    • This is why Seattle has the highest per capita rate of private schooling of any major metro in the country. Fully 1/3 of kids are in an independent (private or religious) school because our school district is a mess.

      Both my wife and I are products of public schools in other parts of the country. We tried public for our kids and ended up switching in elementary. The curriculum issues were just one of the reasons…their new school does plenty of education in social issues and highlighting the contributions of different people, but also makes sure they’re getting the basics in terms of skills and interpersonal abilities (conflict resolution, communication skills).

      • Ditto on the SPS experience. But I am so relieved to see SPS has this issue all figured out. What a relief. I wonder how they intend to deliver actual education in light of likely social distancing and remote learning challenges this Fall? Oh, that’s right. That issue isn’t all that important.

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