North Thurston Public Schools dedicates a week in early February to support Black Lives Matter. The school district states on its website:
“We celebrate Black Lives Matter at school during the first week of February. Teachers are provided resources to recognize black history and more.” The school district’s equity page further explains that it intends to “build capacity to lean into conversations about race, gender, gender identity, sexual identity, socio-economic status, disabilities, and more.” The equity page also promotes a conference for students called “Stay Woke.”
The school district’s equity page also links to a resource titled “Book studies and Books for Classrooms.” The resource promotes books titled How to Be an Antiracist and So You Want to Talk About Race. In a section titled “LGBTQIA+ Books for the Classroom,” the school district promotes a book called Heather Has Two Mommies and another book about a transgender child called I Am Jazz.
The school district’s website also states that it is now implementing the “Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards.” The website links to a document explaining that the purpose of the “Social Justice Standards” is for teachers and administrators to guide curriculum development for students. The document appears to encourage teachers and faculty to guide students who may be questioning their sexual orientation or gender.
On September 8, 2020, the school district passed a resolution called “Equity in Education.” The resolution confirmed that the school district will mandate “Ethnic Studies” for all students: “The District will mandate age appropriate Ethnic Studies K-12 for all classrooms to be given throughout the entire school year. The four areas of focus in Ethnic Studies include Identity, Power and Oppression, History of Resistance and Liberation, Action and Reflection.”
The resolution further explains that this mandate will go beyond race and will also delve into LGBT issues: “The District will give clear guidance to teachers regarding LGBTQIA+ materials and resources to ensure true representation for all students in our curriculum and supplemental materials. The resources will ensure that teachers and staff members are equipped with the knowledge, vocabulary and resources to effectively include LGBTQIA+ perspectives in the classroom and that students, families, and staff understand that the LGBTQIA+ community is supported by NTPS.”
The school district emphasized that Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) is essential “in order to make equity in schools a reality.” The School District explains: “Evidence based strategies that support equitable school discipline include Positive Behavior Interventions & Support (PBIS), social emotional learning (SEL), cultural responsiveness, and Restorative Practices (Hanover Research, 2017).”