During the month of June, we are struck by how important it is to uplift and honor Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual (LGBTQIA+) voices and stories. Pride Month is a time to celebrate the beauty, strength, and diversity in the LGBTQIA+ community and the importance of activism. And now, more than ever – amidst continued discrimination and relentless attacks to undermine their human rights, it is vital that we tell our students that Pride is an act of self-expression and resistance.

Since joining AF Providence Elementary last year, Dana Hurley, Dean of Student Experience, has been doing just that. For this year’s celebration, Dana worked hard to ensure that Pride Month is embedded into every fabric of her school community. Dana, along with the support of her fellow school leaders, created a resource guide. It includes resources, activities, and read-alouds centered around LGBTQIA+ history. Throughout Pride Month, students and teachers alike are encouraged to think about how society has included (or excluded) people with varying identities throughout history and how being an ally can make a difference in their respective communities.

“At AF Providence Elementary, we always talk about social activism with our students through the lens of equality and inclusion,” says Dana. “We want to make sure our students see themselves represented in the curriculum and resources.”

Dana’s team did everything to make sure that this guide felt inclusive and holistic of what students needed to know about Pride Month and LGBTQIA+ history. The three-week plan maps out vital pillars of Pride Month: history, allyship, and taking action. The PRES Pride guide is equal parts learning and what it means to be an ally. They also included read-alouds like SPEAK UP by Miranda Paul and activities like the “ABCs of Allyship,”

Putting together this robust guide was challenging for Dana and her team. Gleaning heavily on her academic background in behavior analysis, Dana looked at statistics on students’ exposure to information and how it affects the trajectories of kids’ lives. And in addition to all the collaborative work, Dana also sourced materials and guided activities from organizations like the Trevor Project and the New York Public Library.

The resources in Dana’s guided plan are meant to be teacher-driven. However, her team felt it was important that families have access to this document so that learning did not stop in the classroom.

“I try to focus on bringing more joy to the school and our community,” says Dana. “I also want to make sure activism and inclusion are embedded throughout everything that we’re doing. My hope is that by having these as foundations and doing this work, it continues throughout our AF and personal communities.”

For Dana, Pride Month does not stop on June 30th. She is already thinking about next year’s celebration and other upcoming heritage months.

Similar to her approach to Pride Month, Dana hopes to create a similar resource guide and in-person celebrations for Latinx Heritage Month, Black History Month, and various independence days that AF Providence Elementary families observe.

To her, it is imperative that the whole AF network continuously raise awareness around current social justice issues that impact the communities we serve.

“Ensuring that resources honor intersectionality and independence are so important,” Dana says. “Our students and families represent a diversity of identities and communities. And it’s our duty as educators to celebrate their pride.”

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