Diversity Equity & Inclusion

We are committed to providing an environment where the identities and individual stories of our students, families, and faculty and staff have space to inform their experience at The Lab School. Each individual’s identity is invariably unique as it reflects race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, gender, sexual orientation, family history, beliefs, and learning abilities.

And, at Lab, we know that increasing the diversity of student, family, and staff backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives in and beyond the classroom significantly elevates the learning process.

Our mission around diversity, equity, and inclusion extends to curriculum, programs, policies, and hiring practices. We embrace our role as a leader in fostering a place for all as well as a community that upholds high standards in regard to respectful and thoughtful discourse.
We invite you to review our 2018 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Plan.

View our student and faculty Diversity Roundtable, videotaped following the National Association of Independent School’s most recent annual People of Color and Student Diversity Leadership Conferences.


We recognize that being a student with a learning difference, a parent of a child with a learning difference, or an educator of a student with a learning difference is but one aspect of the identity our community members bring to Lab. Our work in diversity, equity, and inclusion grows from that starting point, and is supported by our faculty, staff, administrators, students, and parents.

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  • Click here for a sampling of some of those initiatives:

    • Work with Dr. Derrick Gay, a nationally-recognized diversity consultant to help us develop better cultural competencies and lead us in generating strategic goals for diversity and inclusivity.
    • Attend national and local faculty and student conferences, focused on diversity, equity, and inclusivity.
    • Recruit new faculty and staff at diversity hiring fairs.
    • Hold faculty book clubs, which feature many books on diversity and inclusivity.
    • Host parent meetings to discuss topics around diversity and inclusivity.
    • Invite speakers to talk on topics of diversity, equity, and inclusivity.
    • Establish several diversity-related clubs in High and Junior High School.
    • Integrate themes of identity and stereotypes in 9th grade English and Social Studies curricula.
    • Expand library to include more titles that represent different cultures and family compositions.

DEI | Upcoming Events

Click on the links below for more information.

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  • DEI Lecture with Arie L. Nettles, Ph.D | Thursday, April 25, 2019

    Glass Half Full:
    Dispelling the myths around learning differences in communities of color

    In communities of color the myths and fears are real. Join us as we shatter the glass beyond the diagnosis, recognize student strengths, and learn how to support those strengths in and out of the classroom.

    Arie L. Nettles, Ph.D
    Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics
    Vanderbilt University Medical Center

    Dr. Nettles is an associate professor of Clinical Pediatrics, director of the Office of Inclusion and Health Equity at Vanderbilt University Hospital, and chair of the Planning and Policy Council of the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Her specialties include Pediatric Psychology, Child Development Psychology, and Child and Adolescent Psychology.

    Thursday, April 25, 2019

    The Lab School of Washington
    Sands Forum, High School
    4759 Reservoir Rd NW
    Washington, DC 20007
  • DEI Parent Meeting | Wednesday, March 20, 2019

    2018-2019 State of the School:
    DEI Student Leaders Assess the Progress of Lab's Diversity,
    Equity and Inclusion Student Goals

    A Continued Discussion: Best practices for Hiring a Leader to Support DEI in Independent Schools

    Wednesday, March 20, 2019
    6:30pm – 8:30pm

    The DEI strategic plan asks that all voices at Lab School be heard — including the student voice. To that end, active, vocal, dedicated DEI student leaders will offer their experience and observations. They will also lead a mini workshop showcasing activities that they have learned through classes, workshops, and club activities. These students have become our “specialists” as they represented The Lab School at the Student Diversity Leadership Conference, some of them for a number of years, becoming leaders there, and most recently, in Nashville, Tennessee in November 2018.

    The Student Diversity Leadership Conference or (SDLC) includes more than 1,600 students and includes all races and all cultures. It is a gathering of upper school student leaders from independent schools from across the U.S. and abroad. SDLC focuses on self-reflecting, forming allies, and building community, where students develop cross-cultural communication skills, design effective strategies for social justice practice through dialogue and the arts, and they learn the foundations of allyship and networking principles.

    Topics for this parent meeting include:
    • A growing level of comfort in an increasingly diverse environment among students and faculty
    • The experience at Lab for an adopted child of color with white parents, or for a mixed-race child 
    • Self-awareness difficulties that emerge as a Black boy at Lab becomes a Black man at Lab
    • Discovering as a white student at Lab, that the dominant culture is one of white privilege and what that means
    • Homophobic and racist words and concepts heard and used among students ​
    Hour one: Student presentation, including brief Q&A session
    Hour two: Discussion of what are the best practices for hiring a leader to support DEI in independent schools


    Caitlin Green, Belen Riberas, Ethan Feinberg, Ethan Kabati, Rafi Katkov, and Yosi Zelalem

  • DEI Parent Meeting | Wednesday, January 23, 2019

    Language, Labels and Power: The Intersection of “LD” and Students of Color in Independent Schools
    What DEI Characteristics Do We Want in Our New Leader at Lab?

    6:30pm – 8:30pm
    Language, Labels, and Power: The Intersection of “LD” and Students of Color in Independent Schools was first delivered at the People of Color Conference in Anaheim, California in 2017. The presentation explores the intersection of students of color and the label of “LD” within the context of public schools and independent schools. The presenters will look at milestones in public policy and ways students of color with the LD label have gained a pathway to academic and personal achievement. 
    We will also look at how students of color with the label of LD can also be subjected to added levels of discrimination in school, and are often uniquely stigmatized within the student’s home community.  Dynamics such as lowered expectations, tracking, tokenism, stereotype threat, LD bias, and the mistrust of medicine as the result of historical disparate treatment are highlighted.
    Our experience at Lab School is that students and parents understand LD and the culture that can result, and by necessity, have comparable cultural competencies as they are familiar with disparities often associated with learning differences. As such, we believe that all of us at Lab are uniquely primed for authentic work in DEI. During the discussion, you will hear a few first-person accounts from Lab School students of color, focusing on the ways in which cultural and learning differences intersect in our community as we work to assure that our community members develop superior cultural competencies to include all student communities, including students of color.

    Hour one: Presentation, including brief Q&A session
    Hour two: Discussion of what we want to see in our new leader of The Lab School from the DEI perspective.


    Yvette Shepard – Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
    Christopher Lanier – Associate Head of High School
    Dr. Robert Lane – Director of Admissions


Below are books, articles, films, and other types of media that Lab Community members have been using and talking about as well as books for all ages kindly suggested by Politics and Prose bookstore. There are many more out there, but this is a starting point.


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  • Kindergarten through Second Grade

    Happy In Our Skin by Fran Manushkin - This book is about how each new baby (and eventually child) is unique, from their skin tone to freckles, scabs etc. There are many different children of various ethnicity, religions (Muslim and orthodox jew), and abilities (children in wheelchairs, etc.)
    The Color of Us by Karen Katz - A book about a seven-year-old who wants to paint a picture of herself. When she and her mom go through the neighborhood to go find paint, she learns there are many different shades for many different people.
    Sparkle Boy by Leslea Newman - A book about Casey, a boy who loves to play with blocks, puzzles and dump trucks, but also he loves to dress up in sparkly, shimmery, glittery clothes. When he decides to go to the park in his new sparkly clothes, he gets made fun of and his older sister stands up for him.
    Counting On Community by Innosanto Nagara - This book is a follow up to A is for Activist. In this book each  number, 1-10, counts up all the ways we enjoy our diverse communities, from potlucks to gardening to helping our neighbors.
    Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian - This book is pretty silly! It's about two worms who love each other and of course, they have to get married. The big questions, who wears the tux? who wears the dress? It doesn't matter, as long as they love each other!
    Separate Is Never Equal by Duncan Tonatiuh - A book about Sylvia Mendez, a student in California who helped end segregation in the state 10 years before Brown vs. Board of Education.
    Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman - A girl who has two of everything, two arms, two legs, two pets and two mommies. When Heather starts school she is worried about the fact that she doesn't have a dad but when her and her classmates draw pictures of their families she realizes that all their families are different, not just hers.
  • Third Grade through Fifth Grade

    *The first two books in this section are picture books, but the subject matter is much easier to address with a bit of an older crowd in terms of understanding the issues and being able to make the connections back to their own lives.*
    This is How We Do It by by Matt Lamothe - In this book kids can follow seven real kids in their daily lives in seven countries around the world - Italy, Japan, Iran, India, Peru, Uganda and Russia. These kids eat breakfast, go to school, play sports and spend time with their families.
    Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag by Rob Sanders - This book follows the history of the Gay Pride Flag and activist Harvey Milk and the flag's designer, Gilbert Baker. It covers LGBT history from the late 1970s to events happening today.
    Drita, My Homegirl by Jenny Lombard - This book is about a girl named Drita who has to leave her home country of Kosovo due to a war taking place. Her family settles in New York and deals with all of the struggles that come with moving cultures. After some challenges at school she makes friends with a typical America girl, Maxie and they work together to teach their classmates about Drita's life and her family's struggles.
    The Harlem Charade by Natasha Tarpley - A mystery novel that follows a variety of kids in a Harlem community who are facing a wide variety of challenges from homelessness to racial issues.
    El Deafo by Cece Bell - A graphic novel that follows a Deaf student who's worried about making new friends at school with her bulky- but powerful, and very awkward hearing aid.
    Out of Left Field by Ellen Klages - A girl's fight for equal rights on the baseball field. Set in the recent past, a girl fights not other cultural assumptions but hard and fast rules to try and play baseball with the boys. She also sets out to prove that she's not the only girl who can play baseball.
  • Sixth Grade through Eighth Grade

    As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds -Genie and his big brother Ernie leave Brooklyn and spend the summer with their grandparents in Virginia. Their grandfather is bind and despite his disabilities wants to teach the boys how to be 'men' and one of them is more interested in just being himself.
    The March Trilogy by John Lewis - A trio of graphic novels that follow US Representative John Lewis' experience in the civil rights movement.
    George by Alex Gino - A book about a kid named George who knows she's a girl, but everyone else sees a boy. George ends up wanting to try out for the school play to play the female lead but she's worried that no one will accept her being herself.
    Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani - This book follows the story of a young girl who's family is caught up in the tension between India and Pakistan in the late 1940s. Nisha, the girl, is half-muslim and half-hindu, quiet literally caught in the middle of a wider cultural rift in Post-British Colonial India.
    Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan - Esperanza, a child in Mexico, has to flee with her mother to California after tragedy strikes her family. Esperanza faces hard labor, financial challenges (book is set in the Great Depression) and a lack of acceptance from the people around her.
  • Ninth Grade through Twelfth Grade (and Adult)

    Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin - A book that follows the lives and struggles of six transgender teens facing love, school and other challenges to live their lives.
    All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely - A young black boy is assaulted by a cop while being mistaken as a thief in a corner store. After the incident, his neighborhood is in an uproar and all he wants is for everyone to leave him alone. A young white boy, in contrast, the cousin of the cop from the incident. He doesn't want to upset anyone in his family, but he doesn't think the situation should've gone the way it did.
    The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson - David has faced a lot of challenges, his parents think he's gay and so does the school bully but the real truth is that David wants to be a girl. David wants to transition but has to work through the cultural and societal barriers that make it difficult for them to do so.
    American Street by Ibi Zoboi - Fabiola Toussaint leaves Haiti with her mother to stay with their family in Detroit only for her mom to get caught by boarder control. Fabiola has to go on alone to live with her cousins, who are smart but falling into various trappings of inner city life. Fabiola relies heavily on her Haitian culture, while also trying to be 'American' for her family and boy she falls for.
    Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes - A young boy is killed by a cop, however his ghost is still hanging around. In his time as a ghost he follows his family, his friends and the daughter of the cop who killed him. Of all the people he follows, she's the only one who can see him, well, her and the other "ghost boys", like Emmett Till. The two kids, with the help of Emmett Till and others try and find middle ground to give closure to everyone involved.
    American Panda by Gloria Chao - Mei Lu is a seventeen year old studying at MIT. She faces extreme expectations from her family and from society. Her family is also very secretive and after beginning to speak with her estranged brother after a few years, she learns more than she thought she would about herself and her own family and their secret struggles.

    Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson - Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement.

    Another Brooklyn
    by Jacqueline Woodson - Running into a long-ago friend sets memory from the 1970s in motion for August, transporting her to a time and a place where friendship was everything—until it wasn’t. The book heartbreakingly illuminates the formative time when childhood gives way to adulthood—the promise and peril of growing up—and exquisitely renders a powerful, indelible, and fleeting friendship that united four young lives.

    "Trev" by Jacqueline Woodson – A short story about Trev Louis Johnson, a six-year-old transgender boy. He is biologically female but already Trev knows he is a boy. Trev knows he is "wrong down there" but his father and brother have a great deal of difficulty handling Trev's gender identity.

    Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do
    by Claude M. Steele – Author Claude Steele, who has been called “one of the few great social psychologists,” offers a vivid first-person account of the research that supports his groundbreaking conclusions on stereotypes and identity.

    Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates - In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis.

    Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People by Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald – “I know my own mind.” “I am able to assess others in a fair and accurate way.” These self-perceptions are challenged by leading psychologists Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald as they explore the hidden biases we all carry from a lifetime of exposure to cultural attitudes about age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, social class, sexuality, disability status, and nationality.

    Far from the Tree by Andrew Solomon – Parents of children who have Down Syndrome, dwarfism, or autism share intimate stories of the challenges they face.

    What if I Say the Wrong Thing? 25 Habits for Culturally Effective People by Verna A. Myers – This tip book offers innovative and surprising ways for people to keep their personal diversity journey moving and the diversity commitment of their organization.

    Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence: Understanding and Facilitating Difficult Dialogues on Race by Derald Wing Sue - If you believe that talking about race is impolite, or that "colorblindness" is the preferred approach, you must read this book. Sue’s thorough and thoughtful book debunks the most pervasive myths using evidence, easy-to-understand examples, and practical tools.

    Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving - For twenty-five years, Debby Irving sensed inexplicable racial tensions in her personal and professional relationships. As a colleague and neighbor, she worried about offending people she dearly wanted to befriend. As an arts administrator, she didn't understand why her diversity efforts lacked traction. As a teacher, she found her best efforts to reach out to students and families of color left her wondering what she was missing. Then, in 2009, one "aha!" moment launched an adventure of discovery and insight that drastically shifted her worldview and upended her life plan.

    It’s Not Over: Getting Beyond Tolerance, Defeating Homophobia, and Winning True Equality by Michelangelo Signorile - In It’s Not Over, pioneering journalist Michelangelo Signorile boldly confronts the challenges that lie ahead for LGBT Americans. Drawing on provocative new research into the psychological roots of prejudice, he shatters myths and ranges through Washington, Hollywood, Silicon Valley, and beyond to reveal the truth about the battles to come.

    From the Dress-Up Corner to the Senior Prom: Navigating Gender and Sexuality Diversity in PreK-12 Schools by Jennifer Bryan - Very few PreK-12 teachers are adequately trained to address the gender identity and sexual identity of their students in a developmentally-appropriate and pedagogically-sound manner. Yet responsible adults—parents, educators, pre-service teachers, coaches, religious instructors, camp administrators and school counselors— must help children navigate the inherently diverse, increasingly complex world of gender and sexuality in the twenty-first century. Bryan’s book is a practical, forward thinking resource for anyone involved in educating children and adolescents.

    Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt – Nutt chronicles a journey that could have destroyed a family but instead brought it closer together. It’s the story of a mother whose instincts told her that her child needed love and acceptance, not ostracism and disapproval; of a Republican, Air Force veteran father who overcame his deepest fears to become a vocal advocate for trans rights; of a loving brother who bravely stuck up for his twin sister; and of a town forced to confront its prejudices, a school compelled to rewrite its rules, and a courageous community of transgender activists determined to make their voices heard. Ultimately, Becoming Nicole is the story of an extraordinary girl who fought for the right to be herself.

    Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson - Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.

    Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain by Zaretta Hammond - To close the achievement gap, diverse classrooms need a proven framework for optimizing student engagement. Culturally responsive instruction has shown promise, but many teachers have struggled with its implementation. Hammond draws on cutting-edge neuroscience research to offer an innovative approach for designing and implementing brain-compatible culturally responsive instruction.

    Courageous Conversations About Race by Glenn Singleton – This book explains the need for candid, courageous conversations about race so that educators may understand why achievement inequality persists and learn how they can develop a curriculum that promotes true educational equity and excellence.


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  • Audio/Video Resources

    American Promise, 2013 documentary by Joe Brewster and Michele Stephenson - Filmmakers Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson follow their son and his best friend through the U.S. educational system. Though both boys start out at the prestigious Dalton School, circumstances later force one into a public high school.

    Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin, 2003 film by Bennett Singer and Nancy Yates- During his 60-year career as an activist, organizer and "troublemaker," Bayard Rustin formulated many of the strategies that propelled the American civil rights movement. In 1963, Rustin brought his unique skills to the crowning glory of his civil rights career: his work organizing the March on Washington, the biggest protest America had ever seen. But his open homosexuality forced him to remain in the background, marking him again and again as a "brother outsider."

    The Loving Story, 2011 documentary by Nancy Buirski - In 1958, Richard and Mildred Loving are arrested for violating Virginia's anti-miscegenation laws, eventually leading to a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision on interracial marriage.

    Tomgirl: Short Documentary About a Gender Fluid Child - A look at the life of a gender non-conforming 7-year-old named Jake takes into account the role his parents' acceptance plays in his well-being.

A Note about Vocabulary Around Diversity

We understand that some of the language and terminology used in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work may not be familiar to all people. Searching the internet will produce glossaries and lists from a variety of sources, including schools, companies, and organizations. The Sierra Club is one example. As with any internet source, we believe it is important to explore the context, history, and identity of the organization. Checking multiple sources will start to give you a sense of commonly accepted definitions as well as the nuances that are inevitable when we are thinking and talking about the wonderful diversity of people in our world.

For more information, please contact:

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The Difference is Extraordinary
The Lab School of Washington
4759 Reservoir Road, NW | Washington, DC 20007-1921 | 202-965-6600