Pennsylvania Department of Education Promotes Gender Inclusivity at Central PA Event

Harrisburg, PA - This week, Dr. David Volkman, Executive Deputy Secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), discussed the importance of gender inclusivity at a symposium held at Temple University Harrisburg. The symposium, “Gender Inclusivity in PA Schools: Creating a Safe and Supportive School Climate”, aims to accommodate and support students and their experiences regarding gender identity and expression.

“We know that students need to feel safe to express themselves – and to be themselves – in order to learn, grow, and achieve,” said Dr. Volkman. “It is critical that we work to support all Pennsylvanians, no matter their age, race, gender identity or expression. By providing schools and students with the tools they need to advocate for themselves and bolster systems of support, we ensure that they can thrive academically, socially, and emotionally.”

Promoting inclusivity at schools across the commonwealth has been a hallmark of the Wolf Administration’s efforts over the past year. This spring, PDE released the Equity and Inclusion Toolkit, a resource to help Pennsylvania schools support students and advance existing efforts at the state and local levels to create and maintain positive settings that celebrate diversity and teach students the importance of respect for self and others.

In creating the toolkit, PDE’s Office of Safe Schools partnered with agencies like the Human Relations Commission (PHRC), the Center for Schools and Communities, intermediate units, and others to bolster efforts to ensure schools have resources to foster a positive culture and climate, and to respond to incidents of hate. PDE also provided resources, including a crisis plan template and curriculum guides, available online to educators.

Safe Schools also provides resources on issues from combating dating violence to preventing suicide.