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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