Embracing Diversity and Inclusion: The Episcopal School Perspective

In recent months, the role of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in schools has faced increasing scrutiny, with some arguing that it promotes indoctrination rather than education. More than two dozen states, including here in North Carolina, have taken legislative steps to restrict or outright eliminate DEI initiatives and roles in public colleges. This debate has significant implications for the education sector, particularly for schools rooted in principles of diversity and inclusivity, such as those affiliated with The Episcopal Church.

From the Principles of Good Practice: “Dialogue, not monologue, fosters learning.”

Episcopal schools, including many K-8 institutions, have long been champions of diversity and inclusion. These schools are deeply rooted in the values of The Episcopal Church, which emphasizes the importance of welcoming all individuals and embracing diverse cultures. For these schools, DEI work is not just about meeting a requirement; it is a fundamental part of their identity and mission.

At the heart of the Episcopal approach to education is a commitment to teaching history accurately and creating a sense of belonging for all students. This means acknowledging and learning from the past, even when it is uncomfortable, and actively working to create a more inclusive future. By embracing DEI principles, Episcopal schools strive to create learning environments where every student feels valued and supported.

The Episcopal Church’s commitment to DEI is not just about education; it is about living out the principles of love and compassion that are central to the Christian faith. As educators in Episcopal schools, we are called to follow this example and create communities where all individuals feel a sense of belonging and acceptance.

Removing the DEI role and programs that foster DEI in schools undermines this important work. It sends a message that diversity and inclusion are not priorities and that some voices and experiences are more valuable than others. This is not only harmful to students from marginalized backgrounds but also to the entire school community, which benefits from the richness of diverse perspectives.

As educators grounded in Christian education, we are called to do more than just teach; we are called to love and support our students unconditionally. This means embracing DEI principles and creating inclusive learning environments where all students can thrive. By doing so, we not only fulfill our mission as educators but also live out the values of The Episcopal Church.

Reversing the progress we’ve seen in DEI work in schools is a step backward for education. It undermines the important work of creating inclusive communities and denies students the opportunity to learn from diverse perspectives. As educators in Episcopal schools, we must continue to prioritize DEI work, remain firm in our mission, and strive to create learning environments where all students feel valued and supported.

Imana Sherrill is Head of School at Trinity Episcopal School in Charlotte, NC.