At Mosby Woods, kids and families are in lots of diverse groups that overlap and intersect with each other. Imagine gender identity, racial identity, ability, disability, personality, sexual orientation, ethnicity, nationality, language, past experiences, religion, and other beliefs as colorful circles that overlap to make an enormous mix of thousands of traits among people who interact with each other each day. What an amazing gift to be part of this mix!
Sometimes our differences can feel exciting, and sometimes they can feel like walls. One word to describe this mix is "Intersectionality." Consider watching these videos with your kids to help them grasp the concept that we all move through life with lots of identities that might help us or hurt us in the world. Regardless of how society sees us, we all matter, we all have something to say, and we can all learn a lot from each other if we are willing to listen.
Question to think about: How do we look for connections (where we intersect with others) and also celebrate our differences?
We know some of the identities that intersect in our Mosby Woods family:
Our Mosby Woods family has kids who have special needs due to physical, emotional, or mental disabilities, or due to neurodivergent conditions like autism. Often children with special needs have IEPs (Individual Education Plans) or 504s (also called 504 Plans) which means they get additional help from teachers and staff as required by federal law. Sometimes a child may have an "invisible disability" which may or may not enable them for IEP or 504 services.
We have kids who get AAP services (Advanced Academic Program) and who may come to Mosby Woods from other areas of the county.
We have kids who are in AAP and also have IEPs!
We have kids who are 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, or 13 years old.
We have kids whose parents are in the military or State Department or who for lots of reasons move to new places frequently.
Among our family of about 1,000 students, we represent 40 different countries and 28 different languages.
We have kids who identify as Black, Brown, white, African-American, Arab-American, Asian-American or Pacific Islander or Asian-Pacific Heritage, Latino-American or Hispanic-American, Indigenous or Native American, European-American; any specific country heritage hyphenated with American, such as Korean-American or Iranian-American (or Persian-American); any specific country not hyphenated with American, such as Salvadoran or Turkish; or some combination of any of these.
We have kids who practice a variety of religions and kids who don't practice any religion, kids who observe a variety of holidays and kids who don't observe holidays.
We have kids who are LGBTQ or whose parents or siblings are LGBTQ. This could include sexual orientation as well as gender identity (boy, girl, non-binary).
We have kids whose parent(s) or caregiver(s) work in a variety of fields and who may or may not have been to college or graduate school in any country.
We have kids who live with their parent(s), grandparent(s), aunt(s) or uncle(s), foster parent(s) or legal guardian(s), or any combination of these, as in a multi-generational or multi-family home; kids who live in one home and kids who regularly move between homes during the week or month due to custody or childcare arrangements.
We have kids with outgoing personalities and kids who are more reserved. We have extraverts and introverts. We have kids who represent every imaginable interest: reading, cooking, building, acting, running, dancing, chess, music, animals, vehicles, history, languages, science, math...
What are we missing in this list of overlapping circles? The list is long but it's not complete! Please share with us at email@example.com.
What about diversity?
There's no question that Mosby Woods is a diverse community, because we have so many people from so many places with so many different experiences, so many languages, and so many ethnicities and racial identities. Remember that a person is not diverse. A person is an individual with characteristics, traits, and background experiences. Now matter how outside the expected norm I might be, no matter my skin color or language, I am not a "diverse person" and I don't "bring diversity" to a community. The community is diverse because of the mix of multiple people in it.
What about inclusion?
Inclusion means it's easy to speak up and be heard. It means that everyone is welcome (and perhaps if everyone truly is welcome, then everyone will feel welcome, because they will have been specifically invited). You have probably heard the phrase "a seat at the table." The Mosby Woods PTA is currently assessing how many members of the overlapping circles of our very large and diverse school population have been invited to the PTA table and encouraged to speak in the past, and how many are being invited and encouraged now. PTAs across the country at the local, regional, and national level, are asking the same questions. While striving to achieve inclusion, leaders and members of organizations like the PTA will inevitably make mistakes and make incorrect assumptions. We believe that the key is to keep learning and to be ready to pivot or reevaluate when a well-intentioned act turns out to be a problem for someone or for a lot of people. Pivoting and reevaluating after a mistake (whether a mistaken idea or a mistaken action) is uncomfortable and necessary.
During the pandemic the PTA meetings look different, but they are online each month and business moves forward. PTA leaders are also available by email. If you have made your way to this website and are reading this paragraph, you have probably been to a PTA meeting or have paid PTA dues and you may already feel comfortable sharing your views. Or maybe you have not, until now. Or maybe you still don't. Do you have ideas about improving inclusion in Mosby Woods PTA? Does anything in this website feel problematic to you? Please share at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What about equity?
"Equity" in an organization (like the PTA) means that the organization's leaders recognize that barriers and roadblocks are in place that prevent everyone from accessing the same opportunities equally, and they consistently work to remove those barriers in an effective way. Barriers in a PTA could include the cost of dues. They could include that the meetings are only held in English with no translation services, or that the meeting information is not available to all families, or that the meeting topics are not relevant to all families. Meetings (board meetings and general membership meetings) are where decisions are made about how to raise money and how to spend that money, and if the fundraisers, activities, and initiatives do not benefit . The best way (and possibly the most difficult way) to find equity is through inclusion practices (see above).
"Diversity" and "inclusion" are outcomes, while "equity" is a process that must constantly be monitored and adjusted.
For further insight on these terms from a DEI professional, see "What's the Difference Between Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity?" by Meg Bolger.
For further insight on these terms from a PTA perspective, view the excellent Diversity Training from VAPTA and Antiracism Seminar from NOVA District PTA, and join the Deeper DIVE Webinar Series from VAPTA beginning February 11.
Nice White Parents is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and any other major podcasting app. Consider listening objectively: not defensively, or in automatic agreement with the host's views, but open to seeing various perspectives and open to considering how PTAs might become more inclusive and ultimately more equitable.