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Gender Diversity in the Classroom

vgaffney's picture

 Since Wednesday’s discussion I have been thinking about the subject of gender diversity particularly within the context of education. Over the summer I worked at a camp. One of the younger children was gender diverse and often not treated like the other kids. The counselors were rather split on their opinions. Some counselors felt that because the child was so young it was the parents’ responsibility to instill a sense of standard gender expression while others thought it was great that a kid so young was able to express himself without the parents or any other influences attempting to condition the gender norms into his self-expression. Although a number of kids—particularly the younger ones—did not treat him any differently, he would occasionally have to endure other children asking him why he was going into the “boy’s bathroom” to change for swim time. I could see that the child was visibly upset when other kids weren’t accepting which made me realize the need for gender diversity education or awareness within the classroom. I think it should be something that’s talked about within the classroom. I came across a site (http://srlp.org/gender-diversity-and-children) which suggested possible interventions to ameliorate this lack of awareness in the classroom. Such possibilities included “no boy/girl line up”, “art projects to explore gender expression”, “addressing slurs in the classroom”, “degender bathrooms”, and “avoid gender segregation”. I think the most important is creating a gender neutral environment, having one un-gendered line, neutral bathrooms and other gender neutral activities. I think seemingly innocuous “gender segregation” can perpetuate the problem and educators should work on making gender diversity a priority in the classroom by raising awareness and encouraging diverse gender expressions.

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