The Importance Of Acceptance And Inclusivity In Hawaii’s Schools - Honolulu Civil Beat

About the Author

Adrian Tam

Adrian K. Tam represents District 24 in the Hawaii State House of Representatives. He also chairs the House Equality Caucus and the House Committee on Culture, Arts, and International Affairs.

Students can’t be expected to learn and excel in an environment where they feel unwelcome.

Recently, controversy was raised in the media and in the State House about the inclusion of pride flags and “safe space stickers” at some Oahu schools.

A few colleagues took issue with the presence of these symbols which are meant to make LGBTQIA+ students feel comfortable and supported in school, based on the argument that learning about different orientations should be left up to the children’s parents or legal guardians.

I take issue with this argument that these children are better left unacknowledged and invisible in a place where they are supposed to be learning not only math and English, but also about themselves and the world around them.

Students can’t be expected to learn and excel in an environment where they feel unwelcome, unaccepted, or unseen. Or one where when they are acknowledged, it’s to less favorable outcomes.

According to a study conducted by GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network), over 85% of LGBTQ+ students report experiencing verbal harassment, and over 50% report being physically harassed at school. The effects of this can lead to poor academic performance, lack of attendance, depression, and even suicide.

In contrast, an inclusive learning environment that values and respects the diversity of all students not only teaches tolerance of differences, but actively promotes equity and inclusion. In a school where all students feel welcomed and valued, they are provided with equal opportunities to participate and learn regardless of their background or identity.

Over 85% of LGBTQ+ students report experiencing verbal harassment.

We live in an increasingly interconnected and diverse world and fostering an inclusive learning environment not only creates a safe atmosphere for all students, but it also teaches empathy, social skills, and the ability to communicate effectively with people from different backgrounds, and who have had different lived experiences.

These are crucial skills that will allow them to flourish and succeed in our ever-shrinking, ever evolving world. By creating an inclusive learning environment, our schools are helping to prepare the next generation to create a more accepting and empathetic society.

Inclusion in our schools helps create a safer learning environment for all students. It helps them excel in and out of school by helping them develop critical thinking skills and gain a deeper understanding of the world around them.

This, in turn, enhances their academic performance and prepares them to become more responsible and respectful individuals.

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About the Author

Adrian Tam

Adrian K. Tam represents District 24 in the Hawaii State House of Representatives. He also chairs the House Equality Caucus and the House Committee on Culture, Arts, and International Affairs.

Latest Comments (0)

Gender and sexual orientation teachings should be left to the parents, and not the schools. The schools should not be filling students up with propaganda. Focus on the core subjects... reading, writing, math skills, STEM... not this gender crap.Furthermore only two flags should be allowed to fly on any school campus. The flag of the United States of America and the Hawaii State Flag. Nothing else.

macprohawaii · 4 months ago

Based on what I've been hearing from my kids and from other parents over the years, the children who are supported the least and treated unfairly the most at Hawaii schools are 1) boys; 2) kids born in families where one or both parents are immigrants from a region other than East Asia or Southeast Asia; 3) Haoles; 4) African Americans. My statistics are limited, and therefore my list is inevitably incomplete - but I am pretty darn sure I got the top categories right. Getting fair treatment and equal educational opportunities would help these kids far more than being objects of virtue signaling.

Chiquita · 4 months ago

In my opinion, parents should be held responsible for their children bullying others. This could totally disrupt a young person's life for a long long time if bullying is allowed to continue uninterrupted day after day. The kids get these attitudes from their parents, and unfortunately, with the mega Republican base growing stronger, white supremacy is also growing. And believe me, white supremacy is all about bullying.

Scotty_Poppins · 4 months ago

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