‘Pride, Not Prejudice’ conference to teach educators inclusion in classroom

Sep 16, 2022, 3:10 PM

SALT LAKE CITY — During his lunch break at Meadowlark Elementary School in Salt Lake City Thursday, sixth-grade teacher John Arthur spent time going over grades with a student teacher and strategizing how to help every single one of his 23 students do their best.

The two went through the paperwork and pulled up a chart on a large monitor, looking at each child. They discussed some areas where kids did well.

For Arthur, it’s important to think about what each individual kid needs and how he can support them.

“They know that in my classroom they are seen, they are safe and that they are counted on to be leaders,” Arthur said.

Being Utah’s 2021 Teacher of the Year, and one of four finalists for National Teacher of the Year (Arthur said Utah’s first finalist for the title since 1979), he certainly knows how to teach and connect with kids.

But first, he had to learn how to make that connection.

“If I don’t understand where that kid is coming from, I can’t be effective in tailoring my instruction and learning experience to meet those needs,” Arthur said.

Last year, Arthur attended the Pride, Not Prejudice conference. He said he heard about a conference that was coming up that would help give teachers the tools to help better affirm, take care of, and support kids in the LGBTQ community.

Arthur explained that he knew it was an area where he needed more support, especially because he had not received any formal training or teacher prep on how to be successful at taking care of kids who are at a higher rate of suicide risk and need mental, emotional, and social support.

Teachers like him across the state are seeking the same support this weekend and will head back to class and learn those lessons often not taught in textbooks.

The Utah Pride Center is getting ready to teach hundreds of educators, students, parents, and caregivers how to create supportive and open school environments for LGBTQIA+ students.

“They’re going to learn very valuable skills on what it means to be LGBTQIA+ in schools, how to ensure that you’re being protected by the law, how to run a successful GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) club, and just how to come together as a community to lift the students, and also the community,” said Amanda Darrow, Pride, Not Prejudice conference director and vice president of programs at the Utah Pride Center.
Darrow said it’s important to understand stories behind students in order to include every student in a classroom, and teach them at such a high level that they can be seen and valued in that class.

Arthur took away so much from the conference last year, that he’s coming back as a keynote speaker this year.

He said last year they talked about providing windows and mirrors in the classroom, looking for opportunities for kids to see themselves reflected back in books and topics.

Arthur said he was able, “to add books to my bookshelves that would help kids better empathize with one another, to bring in new perspectives and new voices.”

His goal: Elevate and empower student voices, while providing support, love, and a better academic experience.

“Not just, what they should learn– but what should the learning environment do for them. How I can help them sustain themselves and thrive,” Arthur said. “And to think about that wholistic picture of how we take better care of children, that is a joyful experience.”

The Pride, Not Prejudice: An LGBTQIA+ Conference For Utah Educators, Students, And Caregivers event will take place Saturday, September 17 at Clayton Middle School in Salt Lake City. Click here for more information click here. 

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‘Pride, Not Prejudice’ conference to teach educators inclusion in classroom