The Austin Independent School District promoted a “Pride Week” on its website that took place March 20-25, 2023. The district stated on the page:
Every year, to celebrate LGBTQIA+ students, staff and families Austin ISD hosts its own Pride Week, a time to highlight the district’s commitment to creating a safe, supportive and inclusive environment.
The district explained that each school “will receive a guide of suggested activities and resources for PRIDE Week” and that schools “are encouraged to coordinate activities that engage, educate and inspire.”
The district promoted “Pride Swag” and encouraged students and staff to “please visit your campus front office to pick up Pride and Ally stickers, posters, flags, pronoun buttons and more.” The district also explained that it will participate in the Austin Pride Parade in August “to continue to increase the visibility of AISD as a district that welcomes all students and staff, in a safe, supportive learning environment.” The district then linked to a video about attending the 2018 Austin Pride Parade.
The district also had a fundraiser page with different tiers for people who decide to donate. The lowest tier was a “table sponsor” at $100 for “booth space at the event.” The largest option was $5,000 to be an “ambassador sponsor.” This tier included “live recognition at venue on day of event” and “opportunity to speak or be interviewed at the event.” The campaign only received two donors for a total of $266.60. The district stated on the page:
Your support means a great deal to the thousands of students and staff who will participate in Austin ISD Pride Y’all this year. Your generosity will help build a sense of community by allowing the district to provide branded Austin ISD Pride Y’all swag and t-shirts to all campuses, as well as host the celebration! Please consider supporting Austin ISD’s LGBTQIA2S+ community by making a donation or becoming a sponsor.
In comparison, the Austin Independent School District held the same fundraiser in 2022. In the previous year’s fundraiser, the school raised $12,724.44 for Pride Week.
Both fundraiser pages explained that the district’s Pride Week is part of the “No Place for Hate” campaign. The “No Place for Hate” project is operated by the notoriously political organization Anti-Defamation League (ADL). In a document for the “No Place for Hate” project, the ADL states that “although learning how to demonstrate kindness is an important part of a child’s psychological and social development, ADL highly encourages schools to move beyond kindness to social justice.” One section of the document is titled “Let’s Get It Right: Using Correct Pronouns and Names.” In this section, the document encourages teachers to use the preferred pronouns of students:
From an early age, many were taught that pronouns should follow specific rules along the gender binary: ‘she, her and hers’ for girls and women and ‘he, him and his’ for boys and men. However, as our society has progressed in understanding gender identity, our language must also be updated. It should be accurate and convey understanding and respect for all people, especially for those who are transgender, gender non-conforming and non-binary.
The document then encourages teachers to implement “LGBTQ” topics into classroom discussions:
Using the lesson below, lead a discussion about the ways in which LGBTQ people, events and issues have been less visible or made invisible in mainstream accounts of history. Explore the impact of invisibility on people and how different groups have been historically marginalized in society. Then, engage students in a discussion about people who may feel invisible in their school. Be sure to focus on general identity characteristics (e.g., sexual orientation, immigration status, gender identity, etc.) rather than specific individuals. Based on this discussion, ask students to sign up to be interviewed if they feel like an aspect of their identity needs more visibility.
The “No Place for Hate” document also features a “Pyramid of Hate.” The ADL uses the document to explain that “while every biased attitude or act does not lead to genocide, each genocide has been built on the acceptance of attitudes and actions described at the lower levels of the Pyramid.” The pyramid intends to show that actions such as using “non-inclusive language” and committing “microaggressions” will possibly lead to “the act or intent to deliberately and systematically annihilate an entire people.”