An online teaching community provided schools with a list of titles they could use for events in order to make students from all family backgrounds feel included.
All families are not the same. In today's world people are choosing how they want to live and are less inclined to bow down to societal pressure when it comes to life. Unfortunately, many schools still haven't got the memo, and are still following outdated formats and terminology for their events. Such events that ask for fathers and mothers when they might not be present in children's lives tend to hurt kids emotionally. In order to avoid such hurt and make such events more inclusive, the We Are Teachers community of educators came up with a great initiative. The group shared a few tips on how schools could rename popular events with terms that are all-inclusive and not terms associated with what is considered a "traditional" family.
This guide was released by WeAreTeachers in May 2019. It has now once again gone viral on social media as schools welcome students back for the new academic year. In a blog post explaining why popular school events like "donuts with dad" and "muffins with mom" should be renamed to be more inclusive, Elizabeth Mulvahill—a contributing editor in the community who also has experience teaching elementary—wrote: "Sometimes, without realizing it, we put labels on events that may put some people off. The last thing we would ever want to do is exclude those kids whose family may not be considered traditional."
Mulvahill in her post encouraged schools to focus on the people most important to students while building a community. Oftentimes people get so wrapped up in particular roles such as father and mother that the essence of the event is lost. The event is made to help students develop a connection between their schools and families. As per the blog post, it should not matter who is in the family. Therefore, Mulhavill suggests removing labels completely. She suggests the usage of terms like Buddy, Dear one, and caregiver where it is not directed at specific traditional parental roles. Mulvahill is also in favor of completely letting go of terms and keeping it simple with Ice Cream Social, Game Night, Math Night, Science Night, Talent Show, School Picnic, Open Mic Night, etc.
The initiative encourages schools to omit terms like father or mother from the events. Many families might not have these roles, which could make children feel awkward about not being able to participate in certain events specifically catering to such traditional roles. These children might be a part of an LGBTQIA+ household or might have lost individuals who fulfilled these particular roles. Hence, such titles might make them feel excluded. As an institution, it is the responsibility of the associated authorities to not let children feel that.
We Are Teachers share the guide on Facebook along with an infographic—credited to the Pennsylvania Dept. of Education—which suggests titles like Donuts with Grownups, Muffins in the Morning, Breakfast with Buddies, Pancakes with Pals and Coffee with Cardinals* (*insert school mascot) for the institutions to undertake. The generalized terms will make the event more appealing for all children regardless of their family background.
The post garnered a lot of popularity with 12k likes and 1k comments. Such events help establish that it is not necessary to have a traditional arrangement, in order to be called a family. It ensures that children in the 1.2 million same-sex couple households—as per the US Census—do not feel excluded.
The post was hugely successful with many parents and teachers coming forward with their stories of how certain children felt excluded because of getting sad due to the terms being used in the title. Lyssa Dee feels overjoyed by this shift towards inclusion and wrote: "As a teacher who comes from a family that doesn’t fit the mold, I love this! My sister has definitely been to events that don’t represent her and this is so helpful." Joanne Wolfe Sprague suggested another inclusive event, commenting: "Our school did a 'Kids Invite Someone Special'--KISS-- and we served an assortment of breakfast foods. We allowed students to bring as many people as they wanted. It was usually an assortment of parents and grandparents."