Back to school is challenging for every family, but it can even more complicated for some. LGBTQ+ families often face unique stressors when navigating the educational system. While many are occupied about getting the right supplies or looking up addresses and phone numbers for forms, LGBTQ+ families are often editing forms with outdated designations like “father” and “mother,” worrying about bathroom access for transgender children, or stapling support documents to standard forms to explain their parental legal status or outline pronoun preferences. 

And that’s all before their children even walk into school. 

Our faculty take every opportunity to reveal a true picture of the world and its people to the students. 

Once at school, many families worry about bullying and lack of acceptance from schoolyard peers and the community at large. According the the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network report — The 2011 National School Climate Survey — LGBTQ+ youth face “particular risk for peer victimization: “Eighty-two percent of LGBT youth reported being verbally taunted and 38% reported being physically harassed in the past year because of their sexual identity at school.” 

The Waldorf School of Philadelphia is taking active steps to making our enrollment process and school experience receptive and sensitive to the needs of LGBTQ+ families.

Our Enrollment Process 

Our admissions office supports interest from a wide spectrum of families. The admissions team values the importance of building trust throughout the admissions process and works to affirm each family member’s identity, for example, by moving on from hetero-normative forms to help all families feel welcome. Students and Guardians may identify as non binary and we encourage pronoun preferences to be shared in our comments sections. 

Our Shared Facilities

Non binary student bathrooms / changing areas are available throughout campus at The Waldorf School of Philadelphia. 

Our Classroom Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

Faculty take every opportunity to reveal a true picture of the world and its people to the students. Through the curriculum, we are able to weave a thread of cultural unity and the feeling of belonging to the greater world in a developmentally appropriate way.

Importantly, there are also many benefits to the Waldorf model of teacher looping, effectively where a student has the same teacher for multiple years. The benefits of having a steady authority in a child’s life is beneficial to social and intellectual learning. Not only does this allow the teacher to appreciate a deep understanding of each student’s gifts, but it also allows the establishment of a respectful classroom environment.

As educators, we have a responsibility to encompass and reflect the diverse world we inhabit and enrich. 

Philly Waldorf graduate, Avery Buglione agrees “You have the same teachers for eight years, so over the course of that time, you tend to have a special bond […]. You can tell that they really care about your academics and about you in general, and if there was something wrong, they would always be there to help.”

Faculty seek diversity throughout the curriculum and in the stories we tell, in what we read, what we cover in our history classes, how we teach sex education, what social justice projects we encourage, and even where we spend time with children in community service. 

So often, a welcoming classroom for LGBTQ+ families is about open conversations. Which is why we appreciate the story from early childhood teacher, Patricia Cornelius who recently told her students about a little mouse family. In this family, the mouse children lived with two fathers. 

A child asked, “But where is the Mother?” 

Ms. Patricia replied, “Some families have a mother and father, some have two mothers or two fathers, some have grandparents, or one or two people who call themselves something different. In this family, the little mice live with two fathers.”

And the mouse story continued. It is small interactions like these, in our classrooms, that help make an inclusive school community for all our families. 

Access and Financial Aid

Our school is committed to bridging barriers for diverse communities through a combined strategy of competitive tuition rates, generous financial aid awards, and scholarship and grant opportunities, making our school one of the most affordable independent schools in the area and an incredible value for money.

Our Community Commitment to Diversity

As educators, we have a responsibility to encompass and reflect the diverse world we inhabit and enrich. We take this responsibility seriously at The Waldorf School of Philadelphia. 

Our Diversity & Inclusion Committee has wonderful leadership and a strong core of caring and devoted members who are dedicated to keeping this important work in the spotlight. Our LGBTQ+ families have a voice on this committee to help us all continue to grow in our knowledge of how to be an inclusive and welcoming community for all. 

Diversity in education supports students and the greater community through developing interest in each others traditions and cultures, finding value in community engagement, and encouraging strong and healthy, empathetic relationships that embrace the fullest ranges of experience and identity. 

To learn more about how our school encourages acceptance and inclusion of our LGBTQ+ families, please call or email our Admissions Coordinator, Maggie Davis at (215) 248-1662 and davism@phillywaldorf.com