What is Diversity?
Diversity can mean many things to each of us but each definition should reflect the ability to accept and celebrate each other. Alberta Health Services defines diversity as “all the ways in which we are unique and different from others. Dimensions of diversity include but are not limited to such aspects as race, religion, and spiritual beliefs, cultural orientation, colour, physical appearance, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, education, age, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, family status, socio-economic circumstance, profession, language, health status, geographic location, group history, upbringing and life experiences”.
As our student population becomes more diverse, we can play a critical role in providing support for students and developing strategies and techniques that reflect diversity. The way people conceptualize sexual health will affect the way they learn and talk about sexual health. By providing a variety of opportunities, we hope to improve the quality of sexual health education and promote respect, belonging, and commitment to understanding and appreciating different perspectives.
Alberta Health Services defines diversity competency as the ability of individuals and systems to respond respectfully and effectively to individuals, families and communities of all diverse backgrounds in a manner that protects and preserves their dignity and recognizes, affirms, and values differences, similarities and worth.
Ideas to consider in your classroom:
- Choose to view diversity as a strength.
- Maintain strict confidentiality.
- Integrate diversity themes throughout the curriculum. This provides a means by which students can relate their lives and issues to classroom topics. For instance, teachers may want to use stories from the students; experiences and incorporate them into role-plays or discussions.
- Promote a flexible learning environment by recognizing the variety of learning styles among students and develop teaching strategies which compliment these styles.
- Educate yourself about the diverse issues of students and their families and respect qualities and experiences that are different from your own.
- Make your school and classroom free of negative jokes and comments.
- Use inclusive, affirming, and gender-neutral language.
- Affirm gender and sexual diversity.
- Examine physical environments and modify to include symbols of diversity and acceptance.
- Encourage students to develop attitudes, knowledge and skills for recognizing and addressing stereotypes, bias, unfairness and discrimination.
- Questions & Answers: Sexual Orientation in Schools
- Questions & Answers: Gender Identity in Schools
- teachingsexualhealth.ca Parent Portal: Sexual Diversity
- Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity: Recommended Fiction and Nonfiction Resources for K-12 Schools