It’s been a while, and about time to blow the dust off this blog. And with what better breath of fresh air than some awesome resources Gender Spectrum (https://www.genderspectrum.org/) has just released to help schools support transgender students: https://www.genderspectrum.org/studenttransitions/?utm_source=Schools+in+Transition+-+Educators&utm_campaign=Transitions+-+Educators&utm_medium=email. They’re worth checking out, even if you don’t attend or work for a school, or have or work with kids. Because really, the “Schools in Transition” guide and the “Back-to-School Toolkit” are about rethinking inclusion, not just for minorities but for all folks in our communities.
Let’s start with the titles. “Schools in Transition” names the truth that it’s not just individuals who are and need to be always growing and transitioning: schools and other organizations are and need to be, too. Even if that transition is passively into greater intransigence while the world around us is changing. The fact is that schools can either choose to transition with awareness and intention, or transition by default into policies and practices that are out of touch with the students they purport to serve. And so, Gender Spectrum also provides the “Back-to-School Toolkit,” the name suggesting to me that it’s time for all of us to go back to school and learn more about what we may not understand and may even fear, but still need to know about because gender identity just is–like gravity, it’s not an optional concept.
These resources rock because they’re:
- Practical, providing information and templates for the easy-to-answer questions (What’s the difference among sex, gender and sexuality? What pronouns can we use outside of the traditional male and female designations?) and everyday needs (see the toolkit for examples of gender inclusive student registration forms) and insight into the more complex issues that don’t have a pat, easy answer (How does gender-inclusive housing for overnight trips work? How do we provide gender-inclusive sports teams and facilities?) By providing a developmental framework
- Useful in directly supporting transgender, agender and gender-questioning students, as well as students all along the gender spectrum, and adults of all gender identities and journeys. Yes, even cisgender folks benefit when we acknowledge that gender isn’t simply either-or. When we reconsider gendered dress codes for transgender, agender and gender-questioning students, it invites reconsideration of any dress code that requires boys to look one way and girls another, no matter how those children identify.
- Focused on the particular needs, opportunities and responsibilities of gender-inclusion. This isn’t to say that we can’t learn more about including other identities through reading and putting these resources into action. Quite the contrary. But by focusing on this particular aspect of identity and community life, Gender Spectrum holds us accountable for examining an area of school custom and attitude that has too long been a no-brainer, in part because at an institutional level we still confuse gender and sex. We can’t just point to Title IX and feel like our job is done: we have to understand how Title IX is both anti-sexist and still genderphobic.
I’ll stop here because I’m just talking about what you should be reading. Check out the “Schools in Transition” guide and the “Back-to-School Toolkit.” And happy new school year.