Alliance-building with parents and caregivers takes us through a process of self-reflection and questioning leading to meaningful action.
Efforts to ensure equitable power-sharing with parents and caregivers may at times result in concrete gestures and acts aimed at redressing a power imbalance. Actions we take as allies seeking to increase equity and inclusion for disenfranchised parents and guardians can range from small, individual gestures to efforts aimed at systemic change (including change within the school system).
As when a witness speaks out to support a person who is being bullied, even the smallest action aimed at sharing power with marginalized parents and caregivers is meaningful and important.
A teacher meets with one of her students’ caregivers who is a trans-woman in order to discuss bullying the student has experienced. The teacher notices that the woman seems very anxious and unsure of herself during the meeting. She is obviously uncomfortable being in the school and speaking with the teacher. Nonetheless, she has valuable feedback to offer about ways of ensuring that classroom and school-wide communication, activities and initiatives can avoid being gender normative. The teacher recognizes that this caregiver has a valuable perspective to share, and is cognizant that the school council is in the process of revising the school’s policies and procedures related to equity and inclusion. She is also aware that participation in such an activity would be difficult for the caregiver. The teacher speaks with the caregiver and with the school council and facilitates communication between the two so that the caregiver’s perspective can help to inform the revision process.