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Exploring Diversity and Inclusion Classes

2022-23 Courses: Don’t Miss Out on Taking These Hidden Gems    

Students may not have much say over what classes are offered at their schools, but Seattle Public Schools Office of Academics is hard at work trying to diversify its course offerings. As middle and high school students begin to build their schedules for the 2022-23 school year, they may not be aware of some of the classes SPS has to offer.

From LGBTQIA literature and composition to Black studies and Arabic, students can find some hidden gems in the course catalog. 

At the beginning of every school year, any person with an interest in SPS can submit a request for a course. This includes adding, suspending or revising courses. Joy Turner is a program analyst in the SPS office of College and Career Readiness. She said more and more students and teachers are demanding courses that focus on Black Studies, Ethnic Studies and LGBTQIA Studies. 

“Standards change, ideologies change, we get more bold,” Turner said. “There’s a need for more inclusive instruction.” 

LGBTQIA+ Studies 

Turner is part of a team that helped pass a 2020 resolution in support of the LGBTQIA+ community. Part of that resolution included creating course offerings on LGBTQIA+ history and culture for the high school level. Starting in 9th grade, students can take a wide range of classes that focus on the LGBTQIA+ community. Offerings include: 

  • 9th grade “Intro to Literature and Composition” (one year)  
  • 11th grade “LGBTQIA American Literature and Composition” (one year) 

All these courses incorporate queer theory, queer identities, politics and contributions the LGBTQIA+ community have had on society. 

The team is already working to add honors level courses next year. 

Black Studies 

The course meets 11th grade graduation requirements and is designed to engage students in the study of the seven core areas of Black studies: Black history, Black sociology, Black religion, Black economics, Black politics, Black psychology, humanities (Black literature, art, and music). The class was created in direct response to student demands for relevant, meaningful education. Courses include: 

  • 11th grade “Black Studies U.S. History” 
  • 10th grade “Black Studies World History”

Students will have the opportunity to critically engage different perspectives on the Black experience and the global Black presence across time and space. The class is strongly encouraged for Black and brown students, but all students are invited to sign up. 

There are currently two Black studies classes offered in the course catalog for high school students, according to SPS’s Black Education Manager Anita Koyier-Mwamba, her team is working with Dr. Gholdy Muhammad, author of “Cultivating Genius,” to develop curriculum for middle schoolers. 

Arabic 

The request to add Arabic 1 and 2 to the course catalog comes after gathering feedback from East African and Somali families. Students who complete the course will earn world language credit. For admissions purposes, credit in world language is recommended for students planning on attending a 4-year college or university. 

Ethnic Studies 

Filipinx U.S. History 

The local Seattle Filipino American community has been demanding Filipino American educational content since 1991. This course examines U.S. History through the lens of Filipino Americans. Students earn history credit for taking this class. 

Women of Color Comparative Literature and Composition  

This course emphasizes the voices of African American, Asian, Latina, and Native women writers. Its purpose is to study the themes and patterns that unite women who have been marginalized in the white dominant society and often in the counties and cultures they ascribe to in contrast to the men. 

All of these course offerings prioritize the voices of Black/African American, Indigenous, and other people of color. Turner said one of the most valuable factors about all these classes is students receive graduation credits toward language arts or world history. 

“We cannot introduce these courses, whether it be LGBTQ, Black studies or ethnic studies, without providing the same level of rigor, the same standards and the same benefits,” Turner said. “Students are not losing out on rigorous coursework by taking these courses.” 

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