Norwood has long understood inclusive and equitable diversity as central to our mission as a school. Recognizing the importance of gender and sexuality as core facets of identity along with the wider changing cultural landscape, we have been engaged over the past several years in learning, discussing and exploring what it means to be inclusive of Gender and Sexuality Diversity at Norwood.
Dr. Jennifer Bryan, national expert, author and leader in the field coined the term “Gender and Sexuality Diversity (GSD)” and described it as “… a broad construct that describes the continuums of biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, sexual behavior, and sexual identity.” As a concept, GSD helps us understand gender and sexual identities within a broader inherently diverse context which more accurately recognizes a broad range of experiences and identities as part of normal human development. Utilizing research from Dr. Bryan and other leading experts and organizations, Norwood has been dedicated to realizing a vision which is responsive and affirming to all members of our community along every part of the gender and sexuality spectrum.
Below are highlights of the work we’ve engaged in over the past several years:
Engaged in a year long study of best practices, research, resources and development opportunities surrounding gender and sexuality diversity on behalf of the school community and provided recommendations and resources to the school administration for further work.
Comprised of faculty, staff and trustee members, the task force identified 4 areas of focus to engage with and provide recommendations around: curriculum and instruction; facilities, athletics & overnights; parent education/communication; records, privacy & pronouns. The school is engaged in ongoing efforts reflecting recommendations from the task force.
Schuyler Bailar, the first openly transgender NCAA athlete to compete in division 1 athletics, came to Norwood to share his powerful story of growth, self-determination and authenticity with parents, 4th-8th graders and faculty. His story has been a catalyst for continued learning and exploration of issues relevant to gender inclusive practice.
PRISM was created in the fall of 2020 as an alliance space for any students in 7-8th grade who wanted to gather in solidarity and support of inclusion and equity for members of the LGBTQ+ community. Later that year members of the faculty and staff created a faculty/staff version of PRISM for all faculty/staff members who were looking to gather for the same purpose.
In the fall of 2021, a new group was created by members of the faculty and staff who identify as LGBTQ+. This group is dedicated to bringing any member of the faculty and staff who identify as LGBTQ+ together in the spirit of fellowship to discuss issues relevant to the experiences of people who identify as such.
Why Address Gender & Sexuality?
Gender & sexuality are central components of healthy identity development for all children and adolescents.
Students bring their individual/collective experiences and questions about gender & sexuality to school every day.
Teachers need concepts and language for engaging with these essential aspects of human identity.
Gender and sexuality stereotypes disrupt classrooms, recess, friendships and critical thinking.
"To create a safe learning environment for all members of your community, you must address Gender and Sexuality Diversity."
Located in Bethesda, MD, Norwood School develops students in grades PK-8 into confident lifelong learners who have the academic, character, and leadership skills to succeed in high school and beyond. Recognizing that children are multi-faceted, Norwood provides many opportunities for safe risk-taking, exploration, discovery, and growth in a nurturing, supportive, and inclusive school community.