Diversity education programs are programs aimed at teaching students to embrace each other’s differences and see them as an asset rather than a means for discrimination and violence. Unlike current historical months embracing different cultures diversity education allows for all religious, cultural, ethnic, and sexual backgrounds to be presented side by side allowing for discourse amongst students and educators alike.
As the numbers of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, intersex, and queer (GLBTIQ) youth are more vocal about their sexuality and home lives, the level of violence has increased towards these students resulting in an increase in youth suicides. At the same time many youth are cutting classes and avoiding school in order to not subject themselves to violence and shunning from their peer group. As a result, many youth are missing out on the ideas and rich discourse that these students can contribute to classroom discussion.
Diversity education programs provide a safe educational environment that can be used to explore different lifestyles without fear of retaliation from their peer groups or school administration. Students can engage in age appropriate activities to learn about a life different from their own. Educational activities allow for interactions amongst all youth without the fear of being singled out as being different from the others. Educators can broach subjects previously considered taboo and students can gain the confidence to develop into a strong and well-rounded young adult.
· Each day 5 youth or teens attempt suicide, of these GLBTIQ are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers.
· 80% of gay and lesbian youth report severe social isolation.
· 20% of LGB youth report skipping school at least once a month because of feeling 45% of gay males and 20% of lesbians report having experienced verbal harassment and/or physical violence as a result of their sexual orientation during high school unsafe while there.
The implementations of diversity education programs in grades K – 12 can and will drastically reduce these statistics over time.
The competitive advantage of diversity education over the current historical month model is twofold:
· Continued education: Diversity education grows with the needs of the student and the diversity of the population rather than staying with the traditional historical month model students are educated in different areas as the need arises for education within that area.
· Ease of retention: Diversity education’s all exclusive approach allows for students to learn about several cultures at the same time within the context of their our background on a continual basis versus the current historical month model in which student are only learning about one culture at a time.
In order to integrate diversity education into the current K – 12 curriculums the following steps need to be taken:
· At the classroom level, appropriate professional training on issues related to sexual minority youths and families should be provided.
· Teachers and staff need to be trained in and encouraged to exercise skills in confronting the use of derogatory language and in effectively intervening in bullying and harassment of these students.
· School personnel should be provided with resources for facing their own assumptions about and biases toward others who have sexual orientations and gender identities that differ from their own.
· At the student level, sexual minority youths need a way to recognize that their teachers are supportive of them and that their school environment is not rejecting of them.
· Schools need to develop groups aimed at providing support and ending discrimination and prejudice.
Diversity education programs are currently seeking $1.5 billion in funding. These funds will be used to finance the development and education infrastructure in the first quarter, creation of marketing and training collateral to drive educator and public adoption in the second quarter. At the conclusion of these activities, the diversity education programs expects to be in a position to begin educating students by the end of the third quarter.