In the last few months, I’ve been at a lot of elementary schools, and I’ve been noticing how entrenched it is in their classrooms that there are two genders: male and female. There is always boys versus girls in gym, and the girls’ washroom pass or boys’ washroom pass. Girls line up first, then boys. Boys sit down first, then girls.
Seriously, everything revolves around gender in elementary school. EVERYTHING.
So it should be no surprise that I’ve noticed boys who giggle when another boy says their favourite colour is purple, and girls who think they’re not really girls if they prefer sports over walking around chatting. “She’s a bit of a tomboy,” the kids tell me.
Moving past the fact that calling a girl a tomboy comes from the weird societal belief that girls are acting like boys if they like to be physical and/or do sports, and if they don’t like to do their makeup, these kids are being indoctrinated with the idea that the world is divided into two different genders, and only two.
There is never any mention, at least in classes I’ve been to, of any other genders.
In fact, I’ve only seen this in one high school so far.
Not even one elementary school.
I really struggle to understand why this is the case. Why aren’t schools teaching kids about non-binary genders? It’s really not hard to change these ideas — divide the class by asking tables one and two to come line up, then three and four. Don’t bother with boys vs girls. Give kids the chance to choose their teams. Make sure kids use the washroom they want to use, or better yet, have a gender neutral washroom in addition to the boy and girl ones — they’ll learn that around the world there are inclusive washrooms AND gendered ones. And that’s quite simple — change the sign. There are always lots of bathrooms in schools, at least where I am.
When they enter elementary school, they need to learn that it’s normal to be whatever they are.
And at that age, they are much more open-minded than when they are older. Have you heard the stories of young children who see a gay couple and recognize it simply as what it is — love? Check out this video if you haven’t.
But at school, children will learn the binary system, and they will learn gender roles from other kids.
And the thing is, you could raise your children to be aware of the gender spectrum instead of the binary genders, and then they’ll go to school and learn that their parents are lofty idealists and the world is simply not the way they’re learning at home.
In the same way, you could teach your kids that people of non-conforming genders are bad, and then they’ll go to school and not really learn otherwise. In fact, one could argue that they learn that it’s true — I mean, non-conforming genders are not even acknowledged!
You could teach your kids whatever you want, and they’ll still go to school and learn otherwise.
And that goes for anything — which is why Gay-Straight Alliances and such are now included in so many schools: LGBTQ+ people need to be acknowledged! These things are issues that need to be talked about in classrooms, with the students.
No, we don’t all need to agree about everything, but not even discussing it just doesn’t make any sense.
Kids do need to learn that the world is really like, but there is nothing wrong with teaching them what things need to change.
And you could say to me that the increase in LGBTQ+ support in high schools is already a step in the right direction, sure.
But I’ve never heard of anything LGBTQ-related at an elementary school.
These kids are not “too young” to learn about it. They may not know much about sexuality in grade one, but they know enough from TV and movies. And like I’ve already said — when it comes to gender identity, they’ve already learned at least three years of that before grade one.
So it’s simple: teach them!
As a parent, have a discussion.
As teachers, stop making everything boys vs girls, and categorizing activities by boys and girls. Discuss it.
We talk about being gender positive and understanding that the world isn’t binary, but then we teach from a young age that it is. And the weird part of that is that children are the most open about things like this. The younger the better, really.
I mean, how can we expect the world to be understanding when we haven’t changed how we teach people about it?!
What are your thoughts on educating kids about non-binary genders?
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