Gender Identities in Schools…

I belong to a closed atheist parenting group for mothers of all genders. I posted our letters to Just Kidding News there, which turned out to be a good thing because one of my friends belongs to the same group and she just emailed me a whole whack of information. One of the first links she sent me was this pdf file titled Questions and Answers: Gender Identities in Schools published, no less, by the Public Health Agency of Canada. It contains helpful information such as…

There are a variety of identities and expressions that exist on a continuum between male and female including, cross-dressers e.g., drag queens, drag kings), gender-benders and gender variant, gender non-conforming, and two-spirit individuals. For consistency in this document, we use the term ‘gender variant’ to refer to all of the above gender identities between male and female, on this continuum.

And…

Be cognizant of the language being used in the classroom and during school events. For example, texts and lessons that use ‘she/he’ binary ignore the range of gender identities discussed in this document. By using more inclusive language, such as ‘they’ instead of ‘she’ or ‘he’, not only will transgender youth feel more supported but it will also help educate the entire school community about gender diversity.

And even…

Gender variant students are attending schools in Canada, whether or not they are visible to other students, staff or administrators. There are several reasons why gender variant students may not be visible within the school community. First, most gender variant youth are invisible out of fear for their safety. Individuals whose behaviours do not conform to the stereotypical societal expectations of male and female genders are vulnerable to discrimination, verbal abuse, bullying, and physical violence. Second, while some gender variant individuals’ goal is to ‘transition’, a process where their external appearance is altered to cross from one gender to the opposite, there are a variety of other gender variant individuals that do not embody such drastic changes. The remainder adopt gender variant identities at various points along the continuum. For example, some may choose to alter only their dress. Finally, making the assumption that there are no gender variant youth in schools creates a barrier for gender variant youth to disclose their identities or for recognizing students who may be struggling with this issue.

I’ll be printing the whole document out to give to Jeremy’s teacher on the first day of school. While it would have been a huge help this spring when I was discussing using more pronouns in the classroom, it’ll still be a huge help this fall. Plus I’ve got Jeremy’s permission to tell the teacher he’s gender non-conforming, which will also be a help.

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