Celebrate & Collaborate With All Family Units
By ISJL Education Fellow Margo Wagner
The new school year is starting! New and returning families are coming to meet teachers, fill out registration forms, and get involved in their students’ Jewish Education. As we engage in all this preparation, it's important to remember: it's 2019, and family units come in all different configurations.
From interfaith families to immigrant families to families with same-gender parents to single parent families, the wonderfully diverse "family units" we see today may not fit into the “traditional” mold of family language used in the past. All families should feel welcomed and celebrated as they choose to be part of your Jewish community and religious school. Hopefully, the insights below will make both parents and students feel welcomed, respected, and excited about their Jewish learning.
First and foremost, let’s define inclusive language. According to the Tasmanian Department of Education, “Inclusive language is language that is free from words, phrases, or tones that reflect prejudiced, stereotyped, or discriminatory views of particular people or groups. It is also language that doesn’t deliberately or inadvertently exclude people from being seen as part of a group.”[i]
Making an effort to make everybody feel comfortable and valued within the community is essential to having a successful religious school and just might lead to lots of parental involvement. Here are a few helpful hints to use inclusive language, and to show that your religious school acknowledges and accepts the diversities amongst community members and their families.
These practices and steps can foster respect and encourage healthy and happy teacher-family relationships. Feel free to refer to these other resources provided below to help engage in inclusive practices.
[i] Tasmanian Department of Education. “Guidelines for Inclusive Language.” Tasmanian Department of Education, Tasmanian Department of Education, 2019, documentcentre.education.tas.gov.au/Documents/Guidelines-for-Inclusive-Language.pdf.