Laura Bratt Q&A: Diversity and Inclusion at SRVUSD
Q1: As our community has become more diverse, the need to learn from one another has become apparent. As a district we need to set a standard of anti racism and inclusion. If you are elected, what will you do to make this district policy and create an educational environment that allows all students feel safe and a part of the community?
Laura Bratt: As Board Trustee, I will be fully committed to leading and continually pushing for systemic change within San Ramon Valley Unified School District (SRVUSD) by looking at how our district views and supports our students, families, teachers, and staff who look, act, speak and learn in diverse ways. I will do this by shining a bright light on the value of diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging and guiding conversations around ways to support, learn from, and celebrate our broad spectrum of communities. I will push initiatives around creating and supporting a more inclusive curriculum so that everyone will learn histories and information about and from diverse perspectives as well as have the opportunity to see themselves reflected in what they are learning. I will make decisions based on inclusion and equity so that every student leaves our school system feeling empowered, heard, culturally intelligent, and ready to take on the world.
I will also initiate policy that takes real steps towards shifting our school climate by educating all of our stakeholders on how to authentically be more inclusive — through curriculum and professional development around systematic marginalization, anti-racism, cultural literacy, and effective strategies to support all of our students. We all have a lot to learn and as adults, we often model systemic behaviors whether we realize it or not. As a culture, a district, a school site, and an individual, we have to acknowledge this and question our behaviors so that we are making systemic change rather than unknowingly modeling the microaggressions that have been passed down for generations.
I will ensure that there is reform-based accountability around behaviors that create a hostile and marginalized environment for others on campus. Each incident, whether large or small, needs to be seen as a learning opportunity to ensure that those being marginalized are truly heard, those who initiate the marginalization understand what they’ve done, learn from and change their actions, and all stakeholders understand that bias and marginalization are not tolerated.
We also have to take the opportunity to be proactive from TK on up, teaching our youngest students the skills, vocabulary, and confidence to develop their social literacy. We need to provide education and support to allow everyone to celebrate differences rather than be afraid of them. And give every student a space to speak their truths, to be authentic without the fear of marginalization or social outcast.
Q2: When dealing with a non-diverse environment or individuals with little experience with diversity and inclusion, how would you approach making diversity and inclusion relevant or valued?
Laura Bratt: We have to acknowledge, talk about, and celebrate diversity. And we have to accept the fact that not everyone has had the same experiences. As a friend of mine says, “When you know better, you do better.” As leaders and educators, our job is to help everyone to “know better” so that they know how to "do better."
When my son started his gender transition, Our family, friends and the community around us had to transition as well. As a parent, I took his lead and just stated the facts. “Leo is transgender.” “Leo uses the pronouns he/him.” “Leo is my son.” These facts are not open for discussion. His identity does not need to be defended. In fact, we celebrate it. We celebrate his bravery, his strength, and his power to be his authentic self, regardless of what the world, our culture, and the body he was born in told him. We have extended family in areas of the country where the idea of transgender is completely foreign. Leo is the first trans person they have knowingly looked in the eye, hugged, and loved. It has taken some time, many people have had to face and overcome their culturally-imposed bias and fear, but it is necessary and transformational for everyone involved.
While Leo has the security in his immediate family to shore him up to face the fear other’s project on him, so many do not. We have to support every person and most especially every child as they stand in a room, coming from a different place, looking differently, identifying differently, and learning differently. As educators and adults in our culture, we have to prevent the burden of otherness that happens when someone doesn’t feel like they belong. And we can do this by using our own entitlement to reach out a hand, create a space in the room, give individuals a voice, provide opportunities for fact-based education, celebrate and value the differences, and accept each person as they are. As we model this behavior, the culture around fear of the unknown will shift. Each of us has this super-power.
Q3: What does it mean for you to have a commitment to diversity? How have you demonstrated that commitment, and how would you see yourself demonstrating it here?
Laura Bratt: From the multi-racial family I grew up in and the gender-fluid family I’m raising to living in Dougherty Valley, the San Ramon Valley, California, and the United States, I am passionately committed to celebrating and supporting diversity. The fact is that my world is much better because of the diverse people around me. Each day, I strive to do everything in my power to stand up with those not afforded the same entitlement as me, shine a bright light on each individual’s awesomeness, and be a true ally so that we all can take advantage of each person’s perspective and vantage point.
I firmly believe that our educational institutions have the opportunity and responsibility to shift our culture through education, inclusion, and equity initiatives from early education on up. As your Board Trustee for Area 3, I will create policy that actively breaks down the systemic marginalization that our diverse communities face. I will ensure that from TK on up, our students feel fully supported and that our educators and staff have the training to model and teach cultural literacy. And I will be dedicated to shining a bright light on our broad spectrum of communities so that all of us can learn from and see the value of the wonderful diversity we are fortunate to have in the San Ramon Valley.