Published: 29th June 2019
Coping with gender oddity of students: How schools are adopting a gender-inclusive curriculum to prevent bullying
Educators, who for centuries have divided students into boys and girls, are now figuring out better ways to address students who are non-binary, gender fluid and gender non-conforming
For decades now, there has been a movement to integrate physically and mentally handicapped children with the mainstream educational system. But now, we have a new aspect to cope with in schools — students beyond binary sexual orientation — as reflected in the Reuters report from Minnesota, USA (19/6/19) excerpted below.
When a third-grade teacher from Texas asked her 8-year-old students what they wanted to be when they grow up, one of them wrote on the board, ‘drag queen’. That response came from Keegan, now 9, a ‘gender creative’ kid, illustrating just one of the challenges facing educators as they accommodate the range of gender identities that students might express.
Educators, who for centuries have divided students into boys and girls, are now figuring out better ways to address students who are non-binary, gender fluid and gender nonconforming, in addition to transgender kids.
A recent US survey of 34,000 LGBTQIA+ youth aged 13 to 24 found 39% had considered suicide in the past 12 months, as did more than half of the transgender and non-binary youth. “What’s at stake is nothing less than the future lives of these children and our own health as a society,” said Eliza Byard, Executive Director of GLSEN, a national advocacy group for LGBTQIA+ students. Transgender rights have risen to the fore in recent years and LGBTQIA+ people prepare to mark the 50th anniversary since the Stonewall Uprising on June 28, 1969. The protests by patrons of a New York City gay bar, who fought back against police harassment, is considered the birth of the modern LGBTQIA+ rights movement.
Keegan has found acceptance and support at his school in a conservative, Christian suburb outside of Austin, Texas, his mother said. “We expected a lot of pushback from the school and we expected some intolerance, but we’ve been very surprised,” said Keegan’s mother. Neither Keegan’s teacher nor his principal said they received any formal training on educating gender nonconforming students and have worked with intuition and observation. A gender-inclusive curriculum can prevent the kind of bullying that typically begins in grade school, said Jason Bucklin, Out4Good Coordinator, “It is about bringing everybody into the classroom and having the ability to feel successful.” Do we have this gender situation in India?