Diversity enhances a strong and healthy community

A Message from Superintendent Greg Baker

Dear staff, families, students and community,

You may have heard that our district has received attention for a particular library book, “I Am Jazz,” and the private business owned by one of our school board members. This attention is prompting hate speech and harassment based on our values as a district and our commitment to equitable, diverse and inclusive education.

First: regarding the book:

Reading diverse books and learning about all kinds of lives is consistent with our values in our strategic plan, The Bellingham Promise. We believe all children should be loved, and we believe diversity enhances a strong and healthy community.

We continue to diversify our library collections so that all families and children’s identities and experiences are reflected. Our teachers share books with children that are age-appropriate and that provide insights into lives of people who are like them and people who are different from them. “I Am Jazz” is part of our library book collection in our elementary schools and has been in our libraries for several years. The message of “I Am Jazz” is a child reflecting on their own gender identity and that all people are unique and wonderful. Gender identity and expression are found in the Washington State Health and Physical Education standards.

Regarding treatment of the adults who work with us:

Our staff are the backbone of our education system, and we stand with all who are engaging in this key work regarding equity, diversity and inclusion.

Our zero tolerance policy regarding harassment, intimidation and bullying for our students applies to the treatment of any in our organization that results in their harassment, intimidation or bullying. We treat all adults, students and families in Bellingham Public Schools with dignity and respect.

Greg Baker