The Impact of DEI Frameworks on Elementary Education: A Closer Look


With the increase in left-leaning, anti-Israel demonstrations on college campuses, Americans are growing more aware of the risks associated with the “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI) framework in higher education. Some states, such as Florida and Alabama, have taken steps to limit the allocation of public resources to DEI initiatives in public institutions.

However, what many Americans may not realize is that DEI principles are being subtly and effectively implemented with young children in their public elementary schools and beyond. Numerous public school districts are imposing overtly discriminatory regulations on students. Fairfax County’s public schools, located just outside the nation’s capital and the largest school district in Virginia, are a prime example of this.

On May 15, I sent an email to the district’s chief equity officer, Nardos King, posing straightforward questions: What are the definitions of “marginalized groups” and “protected class” — and which social groups fall into each category? She did not provide clear answers.

Discriminatory Terms Coded in Public School Policies

These terms are especially significant since the school district bases its policies on them. For example, teachers are allowed to display flags of “marginalized groups.” According to an email I received from a middle school principal in Fairfax County, Black Lives Matter is considered a marginalized group, allowing teachers to display that flag in the district’s classrooms.

The classification is puzzling. Black Lives Matter is a sociopolitical movement that does not represent all black people. It’s unclear how BLM could be deemed a marginalized group, and this categorization highlights clear viewpoint discrimination. Given that children are subject to these operational definitions, parents and students deserve to know which other groups are included on that list.

The district’s Educational Equity Policy, approved by the school board in June 2023, also employs the term “marginalization.” The policy aims for students to achieve equal outcomes, such as grades. Toward that end, the district has experimented with “equitable grading” to support so-called marginalized groups.

Many parents worry that high-achieving, diligent students will be indistinguishable on their college applications because of this. Essentially, when equal outcomes rather than merit are prioritized, hard work and talent are not rewarded.

Fairfax County Public Schools also uses the term “protected class.” Although this term is recognized federally, its definition and application are ambiguous at the local level in public schools. The district’s code of conduct states that “discriminatory harassment” applies only to protected classes. The code states, “Discriminatory harassment is unwanted conduct toward an individual based on their actual or perceived age, race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, marital status, disability, or any other legally protected class.”

Does this suggest that nonprotected classes—such as heterosexual, white males—are not covered by this rule? Are these children subject to harassment because of their race and sexual orientation? Is it considered less serious when they are harassed? For the sake of clarity, the school district needs to explicitly outline the implementation of these policies. However, they do not.

Vague Definitions

In response to my initial email, King provided vague definitions and declined to specify which particular social groups were considered “protected.” She wrote, “A protected class is a group of people who are legally protected from discrimination based on certain characteristics … [such as] race, color, religion, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), pregnancy/childbirth, age, marital status, disability, veteran status, and genetic information.”

Even King was not entirely clear on the district’s definition of “marginalized groups.” She wrote, “While we may not have an official definition for ‘marginalized group,’ it generally refers to people facing systemic disadvantages and discrimination. This can include women, underrepresented ethnic and racial groups, individuals based on gender identity and sexual orientation, people of various ages, individuals with physical disabilities, and non-native language speakers.”

While she indicated who it may include, she didn’t clarify who it does include. Pressing her further, I wrote, “I remain unclear about which social groups belong in each category. For example, are women a marginalized group in schools? They are not a minority and don’t seem to have trouble securing jobs in schools or accessing higher education.”

Two days later, likely after consulting the district’s legal counsel, she referred me to four district policies that are supposed to clarify the meanings and specifications of the terms. They did not, prompting me to respond, “Would you please explain this to me? My question is straightforward: Which social groups are classified in FCPS [Fairfax County Public Schools] code as ‘marginalized’ and/or ‘protected’ and which are not?” As of the time of publication, I have not received a response to my straightforward question.

A Recommendation for Districts That Institutionalize Discrimination

Alvin Lui, the founder of Courage Is A Habit, aptly says that the left “uses your vocabulary but not your dictionary.” It has been the left’s strategy to redefine words we thought had clear definitions, such as “woman,” or Ibram X Kendi’s racist ideology of “antiracism.” For terms like “marginalized groups,” the vagueness is intentional as a strategy.

Regarding leftist school districts that hold authority over our children, we need to challenge their discriminatory terms and their implementation. Therefore, if they insist on exposing America’s children in public schools to these absurdities, I suggest creating an identity points matrix that outlines the value of each child based on race, sex, religion, ethnicity, etc., as seen by these school administrators.

This way, everyone would be working from the same playbook. More importantly, we would be able to demonstrate clear violations of our children’s constitutional rights in court.

Stephanie Lundquist-Arora
Stephanie Lundquist-Arora
Stephanie Lundquist-Arora is an author, a mother in Fairfax County, Virginia, a member of the Coalition for TJ, and the Fairfax chapter leader of the Independent Women’s Network.

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