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Meridian educates global citizens in an equitable, inclusive, and increasingly diverse community. March 19, 2018

On January 31, Jennifer Bryan, Ph.D., spent the day meeting with gradelevel bands and specialists, facilitating conversations on understanding and applying the gender and sexuality diversity framework. The GSD framework identifies and challenges gender stereotypes while shifting the focus from a binary construct (boy/girl) to an approach that is more inclusive to all. This approach emphasizes gender equity as the best way to support safe and positive identity development for all children. Meridian strives for gender equity to be a way of thinking, part of our culture and program, so it is reflected in our book collections, curriculum, and approach to education. This approach requires awareness of how we apply gender equity in our daily interactions with students. It also requires us to call out stereotypes and challenge gender bias. During our training, we reflected on how gender bias impacts behaviors and perceptions of students, and how internalized gender bias impacts students’ perception of themselves and their roles in society. Following our professional development, faculty members have been engaging students in these conversations, utilizing developmentally appropriate language and techniques to achieve this goal. For example, kindergarten students engaged in a meaningful conversation about challenging stereotypes about “boy things and girl things.” That is how pictures of different objects like Legos, a ninja costume, a police office uniform or the colors blue and pink ended up in the middle accessible to all. The mostly-student-driven conversation concluded in a celebratory way, finding that there aren’t really any “girls’ and boys’ things” and that girls and boys can be and do what they want in life. Another example is the fourth grade conversation and reflection about how friendship and love don’t have race, ability, age, gender, or religion. Unfortunately, due to illness, Jennifer Bryan couldn’t finish the planned program that included teaching students, having faculty observations, and presenting at a speaker night for parents and the community. We are planning to reschedule these events for the fall. Meanwhile, we will continue reflecting on and applying the gender equity framework in our policies and practices, with the goal of becoming more inclusive and reflective of our community's values and beliefs.

YouTube video: “Kids' assumptions toward gender roles are turned around at career day in school Website: Love Has No Labels. Even the most open-minded people have internalized the implicit bias of cultural stereotypes, whether or not they act on it consciously. NAIS article: “Embracing Gender and Sexuality Diversity: A Paradigm Shift That Can Help Students Thrive and Schools Succeed.” Download it here!


Internationally recognized educator and diversity consultant Rosetta Lee visited Meridian on Tuesday evening, March 6, to speak about microaggressions with parents and community members. Microaggressions are repeated verbal and behavioral slights, both intentional and unintentional, that convey insult and hostility toward a group or individual. “They can be personal, such as assigning intelligence expectations to a person on the basis of race, or expressing disbelief in an individual’s disability because they “don’t seem disabled.” Microaggressions can also take the form of environmental invalidations such as unequal pay or disparaging media representations. In her humorous and often poignant presentation, Rosetta debunked myths, encouraging participants’ honesty and self-awareness through recognition of past mistakes and receptiveness to feedback about their own microaggressions. Attendees broke into small groups to practice advocacy and intervention, following steps to affirm the person or relationship, describe inappropriate behavior without judgment, explain its emotional impact, and suggest or re- quest different behavior. Rosetta also emphasized patience and forgiveness of missteps in ourselves and others as we endeavor to use more sensitive, respectful language and behavior that’s inclusive for all. Earlier in the day, Rosetta met with teaching staff for a workshop on implicit and unconscious bias to broaden perspectives and support decision-making practices in accordance with Meridian values.

On March 5, Rosetta Lee presented a workshop to fourth and fifth grade students. The topic was “The Trouble With Sameness”: “In some ways, sameness is great—we have the same hobbies, we go to the same school, etc. But in what ways does sameness get us into trouble? How does sameness lead to stereotypes, bullying, and other things we don't want to see in the world? In this workshop students learn how appreciating differences and becoming allies to one another can make a difference.” In her presentation, Rosetta engaged students in thinking about gender stereotypes and moved on to explain how stereotypes result in prejudice, discrimination, oppression, and internalized oppression or dominance. Later on, students reflected on how this system has impacted identities such as race, ethnicity, religion, age, and physical and learning abilities, among others . Since fourth graders are learning about civil rights, they applied the system to their areas of study. Fifth graders did the same, connecting the system to their studies about immigration. The end result was great: courageous and engaging conversations with both grades. See Rosetta Lee’s slideshows :

The Trouble With Sameness: Unconscious and Implicit Bias Navigating Microaggressions

“I thought Rosetta Lee was fantastic! She hit all the right notes with humor and personal examples, facilitating small group discussion and keeping everything on track. Her presentation was pertinent, timely and I left feeling armed for courageous conversations!” Participant

Equity and inclusion march 2018 newsletter  

Learn about our cultural competency program for adults and children - Gender Equity, Unconscious and Implicit Bias, Microaggressions and The...

Equity and inclusion march 2018 newsletter  

Learn about our cultural competency program for adults and children - Gender Equity, Unconscious and Implicit Bias, Microaggressions and The...