A couple of new additions have made their way to ESD 113 Tyee site. Two new flags wave proudly in the wind, welcoming all who enter the building.
When walking in, the Juneteenth flag will greet visitors on their left and the Intersex Progress Pride flag on their right.
“It’s a welcoming symbol and an affirmation of all of those who are supported by our agency and our school districts,” says Director of Diversity, Equity, and inclusion Dr. Auzimuth Jackson. “I think it allows for us to visualize our value, that we are for the collective assurance of quality in education.
“To remove those barriers of uncertainty and ambiguity and to state so plainly, I think that’s a tremendous step forward for our agency, but one that was always present.”
The Juneteenth flag is a symbol commemorating June 19, 1865, in Galveston, Texas, where the final enslaved African-Americans were told of their emancipation.
The Intersex Progress Pride flag represents the various members of the intersex and LGBTQIA+ communities.
“I hope folks feel welcome,” adds Jackson. “I hope folks feel that they belong. I hope it removes that nervousness of ‘can I be myself?’ when walking into any site under the ESDs jurisdiction.
“I hope it sparks a positive conversation about who is present, who are we calling to, and who have we, unfortunately, pushed away from the promise of delivering and receiving excellence of education. It is a hallmark to those conversations. But at the same time, it is a promise of what education is supposed to do in this country.”
The CREATE team (Capital Region Equity Accountability Team for Education) and the ESD 113 Board and Board Chair were critical voices in getting the flags displayed in front of the building.
“When folks see the flags outside of our buildings, I hope that they hear a collective voice as an ESD, as a system, instead of just a select few,” said Jackson.
Inclusivity is a priority for ESD 113. It is not optional. Creating and maintaining a welcoming space where students, family, and staff can feel free to be themselves is a continuing mission.