Our expanded Diversity, Equity and Inclusion course, launched this fall, aims to help girls value diversity, identify bias, and find their voices to challenge injustice in their own schools and communities. When our facilitator Randall Wright began teaching the course to 6th, 7th and 8th graders in Grand Prairie in October, she found girls eager to learn more about a topic that captured news coverage and impacted their own communities this summer.
Using lessons built from the Teaching Tolerance social justice standards, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Girls Inc. course is delivered virtually and starts by helping girls recognize their own complex identities.
“If you don’t know who you are, people will tell you,” Wright explains. “I always tell them, your voice matters. Your identity matters.”
Girls Inc. originally developed the course this summer, in response to the protests against systemic racism that took root after the death of George Floyd. Girls ages 6-14 learned how to discuss painful and sensitive topics like racism and oppression against the backdrop of what was happening around them. “Those topics were very relatable to me. It put what I was experiencing into words and that impacted me a lot,” said Nakhoby, 14, who took the course this summer.
This fall, recognizing the continuing relevance of this topic, our program staff decided to expand the course from eight sessions to 12. This will give girls time to build deeper relationships, explore concepts more thoroughly and learn to apply them into their own lives. Staff also built a course for high school girls.
In age-appropriate lessons, each course covers identity, diversity, justice, and action. Girls build confidence in their own identities and learn the value of diversity. They explore how to recognize injustice and the role intersectionality plays in social justice issues. Lastly, girls are equipped with actionable steps to combat discrimination, advocate for inclusive and equitable communities, and engage others in these important conversations.
“Once we get into the work, they really open up,” Wright says. “You can see them get more comfortable expressing themselves and discussing sensitive topics, and you can see them realize, even though this person does not look like me, we have so much in common.”
At Girls Inc., we recognize our girls must make their way in an increasingly diverse society. The DEI course will play an important part in helping them gain the skills and confidence to build an equitable, empathetic society where everyone belongs, and everyone is respected and valued.
“It’s one thing to go to a party and it’s another to be asked to dance,” Wright says. “That’s where we want to get our girls, we want them to dance.”