The Alliance's Communications Manager and Principal Chad Weiden
The Alliance: How long have you been principal at Edgebrook Elementary?
Chad Weiden: I have been principal at Edgebrook from the past two and a half years.
The Alliance: Have you always been open about being Queer at your school? How do you share that with, staff, students and parents?
Chad Weiden: Yes. It is a crucial part of my narrative as a teacher, leader and parent. In regards to how I share, I never formally have to declare my sexual orientation. It is who I am. It is clear on my resume, if you google me, follow me on twitter. I openly talk about my wonderful husband and beautiful child. I attempted to open up a high school for LGBT youth 8 years ago. My identity as a gay man has fueled so much of the work I have done at schools. As a result, I have never been forced to "name" my sexuality throughout my career as a principal. It just is.
The Alliance: How important is that to you about being able to talk openly about who you are?
Chad Weiden: It is vital. As out teachers and leaders, we have to model, continuously, what a member of the LGBTQ community looks like. Young adults are bombarded with stereotypes and misconceptions portrayed in our media regarding our community. By being an out educator, we have chance to teach, through modeling, the incredibly diversity within the LGBTQ community.
The Alliance: What do you want people to know about Edgebrook Elementary?
Chad Weiden: I want people to know that Edgebrook Elementary is the best neighborhood elementary school in the city of Chicago. Students, teacher and parents are constantly collaborating around and creating a unique and powerful learning experience for all kids. Check us out at edgebrookschool.org
The Alliance: Does your school have a trans inclusion policy?
Chad Weiden: We currently do not an official trans inclusion policy. However, if we do have a trans student in or building in the future, we will ensure that that student feel safe and affirmed everyday they attend school.
The Alliance: How do you talk about gender and sexual identity?
Chad Weiden: We follow Chicago Public Schools' Sexual Health curriculum which addresses gender and sexual identify. Additionally, we name it as apart of the diversity within our community. We have same sex families and out educators within our school community. When we discuss issues of diversity, be it through novels or content, we include sexuality and gender as much as we include race, ethnicity, ability and religion.
The Alliance: What things do you do in your school to make it safe, inclusive and affirming for students?
Chad Weiden: It is at the core of our school values: Mind, Heart, and Effort. Under our value of Heart, we have a specific subcategory that addresses issues of inclusion for all. It reads like this:
Social Just and Tolerant
*I will accept other that are different than me.
*I will treat others the way I want to be treated.
We are constantly discussing and reinforcing this value throughout the school year.
The Alliance: How does your staff talk about sexual and gender identity? Do you provide professional development?
Chad Weiden: Again, the main vehicle through which we discuss sexual and gender identity is through Chicago Public School's Sexual Health Curriculum. However, if staff ever requested PD on any topic as it relates to sexuality or gender identity, I would be happy to either lead the session or provide outside professional development.
The Alliance: What advice or resources would you recommend to other schools wanting to be more inclusive for students?
Chad Weiden: Come visit Edgebrook. :) Or, learn all you can learn from Illinois Safe Schools Alliance.
A special thank you to Edgebrook Elementary. If you would like the Alliance communications manager to come and visit your school, email Dionna Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org