I have been thinking about gender and gender fluidity a bit lately. It struck me the other day as I was walking through the halls of the school that many of the teachers were lining up their students in two lines next to each other. It seems a logical way to deal with one long snaking line of 20 some odd students who can easily get out of your eye sight and start messing around in the hall. But, what does not seem thought about at all is that these teachers have no problem requiring those two lines to be divided by gender. Or should I say, the gender the adult perceives.
I feel like today with all we know about LGBTQ youth and the struggles they face growing up it seems like we should not be forcing them into a gender box that may not fit them. I don’t think teachers are thinking about this though. And if we think about gender fluidity there really are no boxes at all. Children begin to express their gender identity as early as 18 months-2 years old, as soon as they can verbally say the words ‘boy’ and ‘girl’. “More than 50% of Transgender youth will have had at least one suicide attempt by their 20th birthday.” We should be creating open, accepting environments throughout a young person’s life especially in one of the places where bullying begins, the school. Our job as educators is to empower students to reach their fullest potential and that means helping them to feel safe in the place where they are learning all they need to know to realize their full self.
I recently emailed the principal about my concerns. I believe that this is a simple thing to change and it could provide an amazing amount of relief to a child that feels she is being placed in a category that does not fit her. Why even have the potential to cause harm to our students when there are so many simple alternatives to how we line up? Not only are we conveying a message to our LGBTQ youth by how we are lining up we are also conveying a message to their peers. That message can reinforce the stereotypes of gender or it can break them.
I have yet to hear back from the principal. I plan to talk with her this week if I don’t hear back. I am also ready to bring this up at an all staff meeting but I thought I would let the principal take that lead before I did.