What is a Gender Inclusive School?

Hi everyone, my name is joel baum and i'm senior director for professional development here at gender spectrum. For too many of our students, when it comes to gender, they do feel invisible at school, and yet we know that there are a lot of schools that are taking very specific steps to make sure that's not the case.

Over the next few minutes, i'd like to tell you both what a gender inclusive school is, and some of the specific ways that schools have worked to become one. So just what do we mean by a gender inclusive school? These are unique places where the gender of every student is seen, safe, and supported.

These schools take very specific steps to make sure that students are allowed to express and identify their gender authentically, and that in doing so they will not face mistreatment or discrimination.

With this as the target, these schools do certain things. That includes recognizing the gender diversity of all students, interrupting binary notions of gender, normalizing gender diversity, and questioning limited portrayals of gender.

These schools support students processes of reflection about their own gender and also teach empathy and respect. In order to reach these goals, we have found that there are four important entry points to consider in working towards a gender inclusive school.

Together these will form the strategy for the school to become a more welcoming place for all students' gender. The first entry point is the internal entry point.

This entry point includes learning about gender through trainings and reading, it also includes opportunities to reflect on your own gender, and think about how your experiences may be impacting the work you do with your students.

The second entry point is the institutional entry point, and these are the various ways that through structures and other processes on campus you demonstrate your commitment to gender diversity. These include things like policies and procedures outlining protections, they include signage that demonstrates a recognition of gender diversity, as well as visual images that demonstrate gender being shown in different ways across the world.

Other examples include structures specifically designed to support the needs of transgender and gender-expansive students, as well as processes for things like name changes that allow a students' authentic identity to be recognized officially.

Other aspects include things like gender inclusive facilities, not only having those but having very clear messages as to why you have them.

Here are some other opportunities in this entry point. The third entry point is the interpersonal entry point. These are literally the ways in which we communicate with one another and use those " teachable moments" to convey our recognition of gender diversity.

These interpersonal interactions are designed to provide a counter-narrative to the binary understanding of gender that permeate most societies. One thing I do to keep things gender neutral, too, is I say, " calling all readers, calling all writers, " I address what they're doing at the time, and I call them, that, as if they're professional whatevers.

That keeps it gender neutral. They're designed to interrupt stereotypes and discrimination based on gender, they examine various message about gender and what is being said about how gender is done.

They demonstrate that everyone is a work in progress and that it's ok to be working to improve your understandings of gender. And finally, these interpersonal interactions establish very clear expectations about respecting the gender diversity of every student.

Another aspect of the interpersonal entry point is having the ability and knowledge to discuss gender and complicated issues related to gender with colleagues and the community.

The final entry point is the instructional entry point. These are the specific ways that teaching and learning are used to instill greater awareness about the diversity of gender.

Instructional entry points come in two forms: they can be overt, explicit lessons focused on gender or bring gender into content in a more integrated fashion. There are a growing number of lesson plans and other materials that specifically take on gender as a topic to build students' understanding.

Another direct instructional approach is the use of literature to convey different ideas and stories about the gender of young people, whether for little kids or older students there's a growing number of great resources that you can use.

Then, there's integrated instruction. Integrated instruction is designed to bring the lens of gender into work that you're already doing with your students. This can include things like examples on spelling tests such as " festive: he planned a festive party for his dolls." you may very well have a student in that moment say, " wait a minute.

Boys don't play with dolls. Girls don't play football." and it's a great opportunity to remind students that there are lots of different ways that we can be boys, girls, or anything else.

Another integrated approach is through writing and language arts, regardless of the genre, there are ways in which gender can be brought as a possible topic of the writing students are doing. So too with social studies, as gender impacts a wide range of areas that social studies covers.

Science is another way in which you can use gender to help explain topics that you're certain to be reviewing with your students. Even in math, you can come up with story problems and other examples that demonstrate a greater understanding and appreciation for gender diversity.

And finally, almost any other area as well can benefit from the use of gender as a lens on your instructional strategies.

Becoming a gender inclusive school doesn't happen by accident. A growing number of schools are making great strides in being intentional with their approaches to being more gender inclusive, and sometimes it can feel overwhelming.

We want to encourage you, that taking action doesn't mean that you have to do everything. It does mean that you do something, and the framework for gender inclusive schools can be a great roadmap for helping you get there..

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