PTA Council Diversity & Inclusion Committee:

Maryland PTA Diversity Presentation

How diverse is your community?

How inclusive are you as a PTA leader?

Even more important what does “Diversity & Inclusion” mean to you?

It’s important to understand these terms so you can make sure that all members of your community feel welcome and engaged in your PTA. We as PTA leaders must remember that our members are the essence and strength of our PTA. By embracing diversity and being inclusive, we can not only grow our membership, we will have stronger PTAs and better represent the needs of every child in our community. Diversity can mean a lot of different things. Broadly defined, diversity means respect for and appreciation of differences in ethnicity, gender, age, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, education, generations, political philosophy, socioeconomic background, religion , skills,  abilities and all the other unique differences that make each of us who we are.

Embracing diversity and ensuring that everyone feels welcome, appreciated, respected, valued for his or her distinctive skills, experiences and perspectives and has an opportunity to fully participate in the goals of the PTA is critical to the success of the PTA.  We encourage you as PTA leaders to put in your best effort to create a diverse workforce of volunteers that truly represents the diversity in your community and create an inclusive environment with opportunity for the talents of all community members.

Achieving a diverse and inclusive environment is an ongoing process. Start the year by making sure that Diversity and Inclusion is an intrinsic part of your PTA. Welcome and engage community members from various backgrounds and of all skill sets at “Back to School” events. Have conversations that will make them feel welcome, respected, valued and “included” by the PTA. Embracing Diversity and creating an environment of inclusion will enrich your PTA with many invaluable resources.

By removing barriers to inclusion we can promote student success.

Strategies for Increasing Diversity in Your PTA

by Caryl M. Stern

Here are some additional strategies for creating an inclusive environment. Use these strategies to recruit and retain a diverse group of parents.

  • Identify programs, services, and events that create an inclusive environment. At my school, these include anti-bias workshops for teachers, anti-bullying workshops for students, and a schoolwide international night that invites families to dress in native clothes, prepare native foods, share cultural performances, and celebrate the school’s diversity.
  • Consider diversity when selecting decorations, assembly programs, movies for movie night, songs for school concerts, books for school book clubs, etc.
  • Thank teachers with a parent-sponsored, parent-prepared luncheon for which parents are encouraged to prepare foods that reflect their cultures. Call upon parents and other relatives to present information about their heritages in the classroom, as part of the curriculum.
  • Draft and disseminate materials that articulate the purpose of your PTA, a brief history of your PTA, and the benefits of PTA membership.
  • Establish a formal translator program for parent-teacher conferences and other school functions; establish an informal network of parent and/or student translators who are willing to assist at school and after school.
  • Write and send a personal invitation (translated into the appropriate language) to each parent; the invitation should ask for the parent’s involvement and identify why and/or how the parent’s involvement would be valued.
  • Assign a mentor to all new members to help ease their transition into the group and to articulate unwritten rules.
  • Reach out to individuals who may serve as intermediaries with specific groups in the community. These individuals may include religious leaders and leaders of local ethnic organizations.
  • Create a feedback system that allows anyone who perceives or experiences exclusion to make it known to the PTA; make sure the PTA responds to all such feedback.
  • Ask volunteers to be involved in the creating and planning of programs and events. People support better that which they help build.
  • Take time to learn how people are comfortable being recognized for their involvement, and then make sure they are recognized.