Social and cultural psychology researcher Dr. Laura Celeste and her colleagues at the University of Leuven in Belgium and the Queen’s University Belfast in the UK assessed the policies of more than 60 middle schools in Belgium and the school performance and sense of belonging of majority and minority students.
They found that ethnic minority students had better grades and felt they belonged just as much as their majority peers in schools with multicultural-based policies. Minority students had lower grades and sense of belonging in schools that reject or ignore diversity. Celeste explained that approaches such as banning of headscarves and rhetoric like “I don’t see color” can be harmful for ethnic minority students. She also said that middle and high school students who feel less belonging in school are at risk of underachievement, early school leaving and disengagement, and this can have lasting consequences.