Moms in Babeland

Gender Diversity Education, Yes Please!

A recent news article hits close to home: children at Redwood Heights Elementary School in Oakland, Calif are learning about gender diversity through a program that looks at animals and talks about the concept of gender as being fluid.Be an Ally

Why is this close to home for me? I live in Oakland and my daughter attends an Oakland charter school within a few miles of Redwood Heights. I also work at Babeland where we are excited and proud to present a Gender Expression Category on our website. We also work within our communities to bring understanding and acceptance of all people.

Here’s a description of the way the subject is taught in school:

Joel Baum, director of education and training for Gender Spectrum, taught the classes. In the kindergarten class he asked the 5- and 6-year-olds to identify if a toy was a “girl toy” or a “boy toy” or both. He also asked which students liked the color pink, prompting many to raise their hands, to which he responded that that boys can like pink, too.

In the fourth-grade class, Baum focused on specific animal species, like sea horses, where the males can have or take care of the children. He suggested that even if someone was born with male “private parts” but identified more with being a girl, that was something to be “accepted” and “respected.”

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I remember 2-3 years ago when my daughter was in 3rd grade and one of her classmates was a little boy who liked girly things and wanted to dress like a girl. He was also undoubtedly one of the smartest kids in the class. Bean told me she felt sad for him and I let her know that when he grows up he will be able to do what he wants and it’s OK if he wants to dress in “girl” clothes. I loved this opportunity to teach my daughter that this little boy was not strange or weird. He does not deserve to be teased for who he is and someday he will be able to express himself however he would like.

I love this about my culture and the culture of Babeland. I work with beautiful and accepting people who are examples of gender fluidity that teach my daughter every day. But not all kids are so lucky as my Bean. They do not have the opportunity to meet gender fluid people or talk freely about norms and stereotypes with their parents and friends. Hopefully this program will be the start of some real change.

I truly believe programs like this, which point out the diversity of nature are not bombarding kids with some sort of agenda, but they are helping to create a safer place for all people–the more diversity and information we are exposed to the more we understand and accept. Hopefully, then stories of positive affirmation will displace stories about violence.

And people can be less hung up on gender norms and biases and move toward a world where the first thing we judge someone on is not their gender, perceived sexuality or their race but actually the content of their character and approach each human with equal respect and dignity.

Our culture is as malleable as our gender roles and our understanding can encompass a wider view of  “normal.” Where gender and sexuality are presented on a continuum. Many of us already have this understanding. And as this program presents differences and variations of sexuality and gender roles and presentation in other species, naturally, normally and unexceptionally. People with dual spirits and fluid genders are not new and there is really no reason to be confronted by gender differences and variations.

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  4. Sexy, Sex Positive…Mom
  5. Montana Sex Ed Program: Why Kids Need It

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