So, I haven't been posting as much as I wanted to this fall as I adjusted to life at my new university. Apologies to my readers, and I do hope to post more regularly in 2012. Although most schools are now out on break, I wanted to take this opportunity to share some great information I've been seeing about approaches to addressing gender diversity in K-12 schools - particularly in the early childhood setting.
There is a wonderful blog that was just posted by an elementary school teacher in Wisconsin that details all of the ways she has adjusted her teaching to be more respectful of gender variant (her term) and gender creative children. Some of the examples she gives include:
1) Reading "William's Doll" and then listing and questioning examples of "boy" and "girl" toys and things
2) Not dividing the class into 'girls and boys' but letting them choose to line up by things they prefer: 1 line for popsicles, 1 line for ice cream cones
3) Stop referring to the class as 'boys and girls' but using gender-neutral terms such as 'children' or 'students' instead
4) Reading "Oliver Button is a Sissy" and discussing bullying and gender roles
5) Reading "Its Okay to be Different" and then making drawing about activities associated with either boys or girls
She concludes this brilliant post with the following statement:
"My job is not to judge, but to teach, and I can't teach if the students in my class are distracted or uncomfortable. My job is also about preparing students to be a part of our society, ready to work and play with all kinds of people. I found that teaching about gender stereotypes is another social justice issue that needs to be addressed, like racism or immigrant rights, or protecting the environment.
Later in the year, I opened my inbox one morning and read: "Andrew says he wants a Baby Alive doll and he doesn't care if it's for girls. Thank you, Ms. Melissa!"
I was so thrilled to read about these wonderful ideas being put into practice by a caring and creative teacher. Another resource I recently read about is a new book called "When Kathy is Keith."
It is a new children's book written by a psychologist to help address concerns that transgender children face in age-appropriate ways. There has been a lot of media coverage recently in the U.S. and Canada about transgender children (I blogged earlier about that here
) and I am encouraged to see more supports and resources becoming available to help parents
and educators better support these children as they find their way in the world.
The last resource is a new book written for educators that is set to be released in February 2012 and is full of real-world advice from an experienced psychologist and educator. The book is called, From the Dress-Up Corner to the Senior Prom Navigating Gender and Sexuality Diversity in PreK-12 Schools. I was fortunate to read the book as it was being written since the author and I share so many interests - she found me after reading my books, and it turns out she was a teacher at my high school when I was a student there! But I digress, this new book is based on Jennifer Bryan's years of consulting with schools around the country and working with teachers on how to effectively address issues of gender and sexuality with students of all ages. The book is beautifully written and organized in such a way to make it a handy reference, or a great bedtime read.
I am excited about all of this information because it is also aligning with a new federally funded action research project I am working on in Canada. I am collaborating with colleagues in Social Work and Political Science to build networks and supports for families with gender creative, gender fluid, gender independent, gender flexible, and transgender youth. My piece of the project is to work with schools and educators, so I am constantly on the lookout for new tools and models to share with other interested parties. As the project evolves, I will share more information here.
I hope you find these resources valuable and will share them with your colleagues and friends. I wish you all a Happy Hannukah, Joyous Solstice, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa and a Healthy 2012!