Gender equality in schools is not enough this day in age. We now need to be able to address and work with students who do not identify as a male or female. It is imperative that all staff members get training on how to work on being gender neutral. It may be hard to adjust at first, but the importance of this for those students who feel on the outside will be well worth it. Much of this process will focus on putting all students in the driver seat of their success. No gender stereotypes will hold back any child if this process is done properly.
Changes in the Classroom and School
Civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and nonbinary students are changing the way which schools and districts traditionally do a lot of things. Simple things like no longer requiring a specific graduation robe color for gender is a small step for many high schools. It has also opened up the eyes of many and forced everyone to look at how classrooms are managed.
Much of the process for change begins in early elementary school. All teachers must move away from grouping students by male or female. Often times classroom seating has been done with boys together and girls together. It’s time to mix it up and get everyone working together. A classroom community is easier to establish when all children are comfortable with one another. When playing games in physical education classes, students should not be groups by boys and girls. Random name selection will keep it fairer.
Select Different Words
Professional development is a must for teachers, therapists, and counselors in schools. Districts can look for programs in your area which improve gender identity awareness and inclusiveness. Organizations like Gender Spectrum in San Francisco provide resources to help create gender sensitive and inclusive environments for all students. Schools need to see what services and programs are available within your community and take advantage of them.
During this transitional process, it is important to work as a unit to select words which are inclusive. All individuals working with students must select words when addressing children which do not limit to males and females. We need to say things like “class I need everyone to look up toward me,” rather than “boys and girls please listen to me.” Some suggestions from the Gay Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimination (GLADD) include the following.
- Use “their” instead of “his” or “her.”
- Say “folks” instead of “guys.”
- Select “person” instead of “lady” or “man.”
- State “everyone” instead of “men” or “women.”
- Try “distinguished guests” rather than “ladies and gentlemen.”
Form a committee within your school or district to work on programs and ways to accomplish change to support all students. What have you done in your school to work toward gender-neutral sensitivity?