“Have a Blessed Day” is in my email signature, and many times, I use it at the end of a text. But, to talk about religion or God in a high school classroom, that is deemed unacceptable. Honestly, though, I am not even sure if it is still true in my district, there have been so many changes with diversity acceptance over the past three years. Still, for as long as I can remember, the two things we do not talk about with high school students are religion and politics; and I have only taught high school. Fortunately, I teach elective classes, and these subjects do not come up often. However, recently, while doing a stock market project with my seniors, politics were discussed briefly and their effects on market fluctuations. Though religion, if students wanted to discuss theirs or had questions about other religious types, how would I address it to ensure my inclusive practices continued to make every student feel comfortable and safe?
This has me thinking, if my classroom is considered a ‘Safe Place’ for students, then why wouldn’t I be acceptable to hearing about their religion or affiliation. Ironically, Theohari’s and Scanlan (2015) cite that “20% of the people” in the United States do not claim a religious affiliation (p. 143). However, most of this percentage do say they believe in God. Hence, the belief is that “young people are less religious,” and even if their parents are affiliated, they do not always follow suit (Theoharis and Scanlan, 2015, p. 143). Yet, my classroom continues to prosper as a ‘Safe Place’ for my all students to visit before school, during lunch, especially when the stresses of other classes occur, with a teacher pass, they can come to my classroom. Since I care so much about my student’s welfare, the whole child, if this were a concern of theirs, I would be open-minded to their viewpoints. To be genuinely inclusive, I believe this includes accepting all student’s traditions and beliefs equally, as they are a “deeply personal matter” (Theoharis and Scanlan, 2015, p. 144).
Theoharis, G. & Scanlan, M. (Eds.). (2015). Leadership for Increasingly Diverse Schools. New York, NY: Routledge.