About Teaching Tolerance

Our mission is to help teachers and schools educate children and youth to be active participants in a diverse democracy.

Teaching Tolerance provides free resources to educators—teachers, administrators, counselors and other practitioners—who work with children from kindergarten through high school. Educators use our materials to supplement the curriculum, to inform their practices, and to create civil and inclusive school communities where children are respected, valued and welcome participants.

Our program emphasizes social justice and anti-bias. The anti-bias approach encourages children and young people to challenge prejudice and learn how to be agents of change in their own lives. Our Social Justice Standards show how anti-bias education works through the four domains of identity, diversity, justice and action.

In its Declaration of Principles on Tolerance, UNESCO offers a definition of tolerance that most closely matches our philosophical use of the word:

Tolerance is respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world's cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human.

Tolerance is harmony in difference.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used the Greek term "agape" to describe a universal love that "discovers the neighbor in every man it meets." The various disciplines concerned with human behavior have also offered a variety of adjectives: "pro-social," "democratic," "affiliative."

We are all of these, but we begin with a simple mission: to eradicate intolerance.

Tolerance is surely an imperfect term, yet the English language offers no single word that embraces the broad range of skills we need to live together peacefully.

A project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Teaching Tolerance was founded in 1991 to prevent the growth of hate. We began by publishing Teaching Tolerance magazine and producing films chronicling the modern civil rights movement. Today, our community includes more than 500,000 educators who read our magazine, screen our films, visit our website, participate in Mix It Up at Lunch Day, use our curriculum or participate in our social media community.

Our materials have won two Oscars, an Emmy and scores of honors. The project has been named a “Friend of the UN,” recognized by the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation, and selected by President Clinton’s Initiative on Race as one of the nation’s “Promising Practices” to eradicate racism.

We view tolerance as a way of thinking and feeling—but most importantly, of acting—that gives us peace in our individuality, respect for those unlike us, the wisdom to discern humane values and the courage to act upon them.