The Military Child Well-being Toolkit

The MCEC Military Child Well-being Toolkit has been created to provide accessible social-emotional supports and resources directly to parents, educators, school counselors, administrators, and other youth-serving professionals working with military-connected youth.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility

-Kelisa Wing, Chief of DODEA DEI

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential to shaping future generations through the action of celebrating, promoting, and creating inclusive school and work environments allowing all people the opportunity to live full, meaningful, and enjoyable lives. As highly mobile military families relocate around the world, their life experiences can change dramatically by world region. Schools and local community organizations need to provide timely resources to incoming military-connected students and families to ensure a level playing field for success. It will take diverse minds, new policies, and strategies across multiple practice fields to ensure lasting change in education, medicine, finance, technology, cyberspace, manufacturing, and government.

Diversity is the range of human differences that may include race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic status, language, mental or physical ability, age, ethical values, immigration status, learning styles, family structures, or political perspective. Diversity includes individuals with diverse backgrounds or who have disabilities that have been and remain underrepresented among practitioners in the field and marginalized in the broader society (Exec. Order No. 14035, 2021; Department of Defense Education Activity, 2022).

Equity promotes justice, fairness, and impartiality of opportunities and/or resources among the population. Unlike equality, where treatment, procedures, processes, and distribution may be the same, equity recognizes and compensates for the differences in the population (Milken Institute School of Public Health, 2020; Race Matters Institute, 2014). For example, military students with a physical, intellectual, and/or psychological disability should have the same access to federally funded public schools, but they may need specialized care like their own Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan. Military students often face gaps or miss opportunities regarding their education because of their unique situations and/or school policies (MCEC, 2020).

Military families come from a cross-cultural melting pot of different life experiences and may include the intersectionality of other marginalized Identities including students from Black, Latino, Indigenous and Native American communities, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, or other people of color (Tong et al., 2018). Also consider people from rural areas or of low socioeconomic status, members of religious minorities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer individuals, or others affected by poverty or inequality. Equity requires an understanding of the root causes of outcome disparities within our society (Exec. Order No. 14035, 2021).

Inclusion is the practice of recognition, appreciation, involvement, and empowerment of all peoples to be able to experience a sense of belonging. Establishing a sense of belonging or feelings of connectedness upon enrollment at a new school is critical to students’ academic and overall well-being (Cantor, 2021; Cozza, 2014; MCEC, 2020; National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2019). Inclusion ensures that all feel welcome and able to participate fully in the decision-making processes, development opportunities, and other activities within an organization, community, or group. Inclusion focuses on making sure no one is excluded for reasons like their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or any disability (Exec. Order No. 14035, 2021).

Do you find it challenging to talk about diversity and inclusion? There is no perfect way for parents, teachers, or youth serving professionals to have these types of conversations with military kids. You may experience difficult conversations or even make a few mistakes during these conversations; however, the goal is to move forward together. Remember, it is okay to be vulnerable. Here are a few recommendations (NEA Education Justice, 2017; PBS; Sesame Street):

  • Keep it simple by explaining diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Follow their lead and answer their questions age-appropriately
  • Meet them at their level.
  • Ask them questions to facilitate their thinking around diversity.
  • Keep an open mind and reserve judgment.
  • Let them express themselves, freely.
  • Watch educational videos and follow up with a group discussion.
  • Read books or stories with diverse characters.
  • Watch a movie with equal representation of genders, races, and sexual orientations.
Parents & Professionals
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Parents of Young Children
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School Leadership
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Alvarez, B. (2019, January 22). Why social justice in school matters. NEA. justice-school-matters

Cantor, P., Lerner, R. M., Pittman, K. J., Chase, P. A., & Gomperts, N. (2021). Whole-child development, learning, and thriving: A dynamic systems approach. Cambridge University Press.

Cooperative Extension. (n.d.) Diversity, equity, and inclusion a professional development offering. eXtension Foundation Impact Collaborative.

Cozza, S. J. (2014). Supporting America’s military children and families. Applied Developmental Science, 18(1), 1–4. 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (2022). What is diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)?

Department of Defense Education Activity (2022, January 5). Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

EDJustice (2017). Creating the space to talk about race in your school. National Education Association. issues/racial-justice/talking-about-race/

Exec. Order No. 13985, 86 Fed. Reg. 7009 (Jan 20, 2021). Executive Order 13985 Exec. Order No. 14035, 86 Fed. Reg. 34593 (Jun 25, 2021).

Federal Reserve. (n.d.) Diversity, equity, and inclusion. Office of the Inspector General.

Hammond, Z. (2014). Culturally responsive teaching and the brain: Promoting authentic engagement and rigor among culturally and linguistically  diverse students. Corwin Press.   

Holland, C., Sung, R., & Liu, J. (2022). Integrating Antiracism, Social Justice, and Equity Themes in a Biochemistry Class. Journal of Chemical   Education, 99(1), 202-210. 

Milken Institute of Public Health (2020, November 5). Equity vs. equality: what’s the difference? The George Washington University. 

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2019, July 19). Strengthening the military family readiness system for a changing American Society. The National Academies Press.

PBS Kids: For Parents. (n.d.) Talking to Young Children About Race and Racism. PBS. 

Race Forward. (n.d.) What is racial equity? 

Race Matters Institute. (2014, April 2). Racial equality or racial equity? The difference it makes. JustPartners, Inc.

Sensoy, Ö., & DiAngelo, R. (2009). Developing social justice literacy an open letter to our faculty colleagues. Phi Delta Kappan, 90(5), 345 352. 

The School of Education at Channel Islands. (n.d.) What is a “social justice framework”? conference/faq.htm

Tong, P. K., Payne, L. A., Bond, C. A., Meadows, S. O., Lewis, J. L., Friedman, E. M., & Maksabedian Hernandez, E. J. (2018, October 18). Frequent  moves affect military family stability. RAND Corporation. 

U.S. Department of Education. (n.d.) Department of Education Equity Action Plan. Department of Education Equity Action Plan.

Disclosure Statement: These tools are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Have a Question? Ask an MSC!

If you have a question about academic transition, education options, or how to best meet the needs of your military-connected child, connect with a Military Student Consultant. 

Our MSCs truly understand the challenges related to military life and they stand ready to serve.

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