Newton Public Schools released its new Department of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion “Year in Review” report for the 2022-2023 school year. The report explains the school district’s initiatives to implement affinity groups and affirm the preferred gender identities of students. “Gender Guidance Protocols” and “Elementary Affinity Groups” are listed in the report as priorities for the district in the 2022-2023 school year. The school district explains in the report:
Last school year (2021-22), the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Advisory was formed with the purpose of addressing NPS DEI issues and topics. In the spring of this year, the committee was relaunched with the focus on gender-affirming practices. Staff and administrators from across the district began developing a statement of values and commitment to gender identity and began developing a field trip considerations resource.
The phrase “gender-affirming” is often used by activists to describe helping children transition to another gender, often without the involvement of parents.
Affinity groups are groups that segregate people by their characteristics, such as race and ethnicity. The district explains in the report that it has “launched district-wide affinity groups for all NPS staff who identify as BIPOC.” The district explains:
Staff of Color in NPS represent a small percentage of the overall school population. This may present challenges of isolation, exclusion and lack of community. The hope is that providing affinity spaces will offer a place for support and safety which will positively impact experiences in NPS and increase retention. With support from Newton Schools Foundation, we have launched district-wide affinity groups for all NPS staff who identify as BIPOC. We have also created a space specifically for our BIPOC Administrators to meet twice a year.
The report also discusses changing the curriculum to implement the “4 Social Justice Power Standards.” These include:
- Students will recognize that people’s multiple identities interact and create unique and complex individuals.
- Students will respectfully express curiosity about the history and lived experiences of others and will exchange ideas and beliefs in an open-minded way.
- Students will analyze the harmful impact of bias and injustice on the world, historically and today.
- Students will speak up with courage and respect when they or someone else has been hurt or wronged by bias.