Loudoun County's school curriculum includes resources to help teach kids about tolerance and diversity.

While it took hours for the Loudoun County School Board to decide to start the school year with virtual learning, it took no time for them to decide that tolerance teachings, provided by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), deserved a spot in the curriculum for elementary school students.

The SPLC was founded in 1971 by civil rights lawyers, Morris Dees and Joseph Levin Jr., and has focused on racial and social injustice throughout the years. As the organization grew, it developed ways to empower voters, fight for children's rights, and teach tolerance to kids of any age. Teaching Tolerance is a program that was developed in 1991 that focuses on teaching children how to not only tolerate, but express interest in the things that make us all different. From race to religion to disabilities, the SPLC provides a plethora of resources for how to communicate acceptance and tolerance based on social justice standards

SPLC social justice standards

Courtesy of Teaching Tolerance

The social justice standards are a set of "anchor standards" that allow for age-appropriate learning based on identity, diversity, justice, and action. But what does that mean? The identity portion for kindergarteners would focus on self-confidence and unique qualities in themselves without denying the value of others. The diversity category includes how to be respectful of other people's feelings and ways of living. The justice domain helps children understand when someone is being treated unkindly or unfairly, and action addresses how to handle those situations by encouraging kids to tell an adult if they see someone being hurtful. 

In addition to the social justice standards, LCPS featured links that allow educators and parents to talk with their children about more difficult topics such as slavery. The curriculum also provides a book list for each grade level that showcases the diversity and teaches about different cultures.

Even though the tolerance teachings were originally reported as "mandated," LCPS spokesman Rob Doolittle has now said that "the Teaching Tolerance resources are optional" after receiving parent and faculty complaints regarding the changes. Doolittle did clarify that the "parents who have queried LCPS about those resources have been informed that they are optional."

What is your opinion on Teaching Tolerance resources being included in school curriculums? Let us know in the comments!