Gender in the Classroom Environment
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D.C. School Takes Pride in Welcoming Students with LGBT Parents

Check out the HRC Blog for the latest news and actions in the LGBT community.
Victoria Bellmay's insight:

This is yet another perspective about people who are involved in the classroom and are having issues related to gender being accepted.  So far I have talked about students and teachers, but I think it is equally important to talk about parents who are LGBT as well.  This blogpost is from the Human Rights Campaign and talks about the necessity for addressing the presense of LGBT parents in the classroom.  Although change is not going to happen over night, the organization realizes the need for students to be aware that families with LGBT parents exist.  Creating awareness may prevent bullying about this issue from an early age.  Although some may argue that students should not be taught about LGBT issues in elementary school, one personal account mentioned in this article can be used to counterargue why this needs to be talked about: "'Jourdan was 7 years old when he came home from summer camp two years ago and asked, “What is gay?" the article reads. "Even though he is growing up with lesbian moms and surrounded by friends with gay parents, Jourdan had never put a word to what might be different about his family, until some teenage counselors began teasing him.'"

 

Before starting this content curation, I will admit that I was biased in thinking that students should not begin to learn about issues regarding homosexuality until they are older.  However, after doing extensive research I have realized that this simply doesn't cut it.  Students are going to be exposed to homosexuality and gender in ways that go against societal norms from a young age if they have parents who are LGBT.  I think that it is essential for them to grasp the basic concept about what homosexuality is.  For example, I believe that reading the book "And Tango Makes Three" would be a great way to introduce the concept of LGBT parents to my students.  The story is about two penguins in the Central Park Zoo who are male and in love.  They are given a penguin egg and together successfully raise a family.  Including books like this helps introduce the concept of children with LGBT parents as being normative to other students who are in the classroom.  I believe that creating awareness and acceptance will help end bullying for students who have LGBT parents.

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Teachers Must Tell Parents if Kid is Gay, Say GOP Lawmakers

"Tennessee's so-called 'Don't Say Gay' bill died with the adjournment of the state assembly last year. But now the measure is back — with new, harsher requir...
Victoria Bellmay's insight:

This video talks about a Tennesse law that Republicans are trying to enact in schools.  This law would require teachers who may have an inkling that a student is homosexual to report this to guidance counselors and parents of that student.  The women talking about this issue in the video bring up some great points.  They note that this reinforces gender norms because students are being reported based on who the teacher might think is homosexual.  For example, if one student does not act as 'masculine' as other boys, that could be grounds for the teacher to approach the parents and inform that their child is homosexual.  Additionally, they mention that guidance counselors and teachers are supposed to be keeping students' information confidential.  The only times this confidentiality should be broken is when the student is at risk, such as having thoughts about suicide. They bring up that this law does not protect students; rather is exposing them.  This becomes extremely problematic, considering that a recorded 40% of homeless youth are homeless because they were kicked out of their homes for being LBGT.

 

I think that a law like this is horrible.  First of all, the teachers have no grounds to go off of when reporting these students.  If a student like Allie from a previous blogpost went to school dressed like a boy, this is considered fair game to tell the parents that she is homosexual.  I think that this is ridiculous.  Allie may have a sexual preference toward males, but if the teacher thinks there is a chance that she is homosexual she will automatically be labelled as such.  I agree with the reporters that this could be very detrimental for students.  Not only would she have to risk being bullied by her peers and being kicked out of her home, but this could make her feel even more uncomfortable than she already may have been feeling about how she relates to gender.  In order for students to feel comfortable about how they identify themselves related to gender or what their sexual preference is, I believe that laws like this should not exist.

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Interview with Stuart Milk: Respect the Gay Teachers

GAY.tv interviews Stuart Milk, LGBT human rights activist, nephew of the gay hero Harvey Milk and co-founder of the Harvey Milk Foundation. In this video Stu...
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LGBT Teachers Forced Back Into the Closet

LGBT Teachers Forced Back Into the Closet | Gender in the Classroom Environment | Scoop.it
Thousands of LGBT educators in America live in fear every day of being fired.
Victoria Bellmay's insight:

In other responses, I have talked a lot about how students who are unsure about how to identify themselves with gender might feel uncomfortable in some school settings.  However, teachers can also be subjected to feeling uncomfortable about issues relating to gender in the classroom.  This article that I found talked about how some teachers who are LBGT do not feel comfortable coming out because they are afraid that they are going to be fired from their jobs.  Although they are covered by state laws that prevent discrimination in public schools, private schools are not held to the same standard and therefore can get away with being discriminatory about this much more than public schools can.  The article presents the story of one LGBT teacher in a Catholic private school: Such "was the case with Ken Bencomo. a teacher at St. Lucy’s Priory High School in Glendora, Calif., for 17 years. In July a local newspaper printed a picture of Bencomo and his partner’s wedding, prompting the administration at St. Lucy’s to notify the popular educator that because his marriage went against the Roman Catholic Church’s teachings, he was fired."

 

I believe that no school has the right to fire a teacher based on their sexual preference or how they identify their gender.  Schools should be deciding who is hired or not based on how well that they interact with the kids and how much they are able to teach students.  Later on in the article, the quote was followed up by saying, "“Mr. B taught love better than any other teacher at the school,” Littleton tells The Advocate, “and that’s the most important Catholic value you can teach. When I was a freshman, I didn’t want to go to St. Lucy’s. But Mr. B refused to let it happen. He called my parents and made me come to class in the morning. He changed my life.”"  I feel as though if students like a teacher, they will want that teacher around regardless of their race, sexual preference, or gender.  In  fact, I would argue that if teachers were able to feel completely comfortable coming out of the closet, not only would they no longer have to fear that their jobs are going to be taken away from them, but students who are having issues about how to identify their gender and sexual preference might find it comforting that someone who plays an important role in their life can understand what they are going through.  I think that instead of having LGBT teachers live in fear, we should be empowering them to speak out and accept them for who they are in the classroom environment.

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The Challenge of Gender-Bias Reform: A Case Study of Teacher Trainees in Hong Kong

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Do single-sex schools make kids sexist?

Do single-sex schools make kids sexist? | Gender in the Classroom Environment | Scoop.it
A new study says putting boys and girls in different classrooms reinforces gender stereotypes — without helping anyone learn more
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Journal Tribune: York County's Only Daily Newspaper > Archives > Editorial > Single-gender classrooms reinforce stereotypes

Journal Tribune: York County's Only Daily Newspaper > Archives > Editorial > Single-gender classrooms reinforce stereotypes | Gender in the Classroom Environment | Scoop.it
enter site/page/section description here.
Victoria Bellmay's insight:

This newspaper editorial brings up a great point about the issue regarding same-sex classrooms.  Studies have shown that although there may not be a significant difference between how girls and boys learn in a co-ed classroom vs. a single-sex classroom, single-sex classrooms can become problematic because teachers can unintentionally be reinforcing gender norms and gender stereotypes.  One quote from the newspaper editorial describes this perfectly: "Two components of the Willard School classes that the ACLU highlighted were activities that seem to stereotype the students by gender. In one of the girls’ classes, the students sat in a circle, sipping hot cocoa and discussing current events, while in the boys’ class, they got extra physical activity through a program called the “NFL Experience,” according to the ACLU."


I think that this can be very problematic.  In another piece of curated content I found for this topic, I talked about the little girl Allie who did not like to be identified as a girl since she wears boy clothing.  What is a school supposed to do when they approach a student like this?  Or a student who is transgender?  I am afraid that this could be a very negative environment for students like this because it is possible that they could feel very alienated in the classroom.  I understand why the school mentioned in the newspaper editorial decided to try out this new method of classroom teaching, however I find that dividing students up by gender is not the correct answer for finding a different way of teaching.  Instead of dividing by gender, perhaps they could divide by another factor like the teacher decided to do for bathrooms in the Allie blogpost.  For example, the two classrooms could be divided into students who like dogs and students who like cats.  This way, the students in each group will feel as though there is a commonality between all of them without running the risk of making anyone feel uncomfortable.

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Affirming Gender in Elementary School: Social Transitioning | Welcoming Schools

Welcoming Schools offers tools, lessons and resources on embracing family diversity, avoiding gender stereotyping and ending bullying and name-calling in elementary schools.
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Single-sex schooling can empower black boys

Single-sex schooling can empower black boys | Gender in the Classroom Environment | Scoop.it
Freeden Oeur says parents should have the option to choose between single-sex programs and coeducational options.
Victoria Bellmay's insight:

This opinion article gives a completely different perspective about single-sex schooling than what I found in a previous piece of curated content.  This one focuses on how single-sex classes and schools can be beneficial for young boys, especially for students who come from minority backgrounds or low socioeconomic status'.  The article says the following, "The school staff was well aware of common stereotypes of their young men -- as, say, rappers and basketball players -- and so the school culture nurtured individual interests and passions. At weekly assemblies, the accomplishments of the mock trial team were celebrated alongside those of the basketball team. There was a thriving comic book and anime club, and nearly the entire school turned out for theater productions.  Critics also worry that all-boys schools promote a machismo culture and could alienate boys who are gay. Yet a schoolwide commitment to helping young men become gentlemen meant frequent lessons about respecting women and girls."  This school ensures that it focuses less on the stereotypes of masculinity that men are expected to portray and instead ensure that they focus on each of the student's individual talents, needs, and concerns.

 

I personally think that this is a great approach to single-sex schools or classrooms.  Although I am still concerned that gender stereotypes are going to be reinforced, I see no reason why this should not exist if teachers are working alongside students to ensure that the gender stereotypes of males or females are not being encouraged.  The school is taking extra measures to ensure that the students feel comfortable with one another.  The result is a high school full of students who pretty much all love the environment that they are a part of and are very support of each other.  I do, however, have one concern regarding this.  What should students who were born female but  identify males do about schools like these?  I see no reason why that individual would not be able to go to a school like this.  Therefore, I believe that single-sex classrooms or schools can be successful as long as they explicitly mention what they mean by 'single-sex.'  Schools that are inclusive in making sure that ALL students who identify as male are welcome in the school are the ones that are going to thrive. 

 

 

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iVideo Project: Empowering LGBT Teachers in Our Schools

A video project for Year 3 of the MSU MAET program about empowering LGBT teachers to be open about who they are in their classrooms.
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Gender-Inclusive Language in the Classroom

Gender-Inclusive Language in the Classroom | Gender in the Classroom Environment | Scoop.it
A Resource for Teaching and Learning
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Are Gender Stereotypes Taught in School?

Female elementary school teachers may project a fear of math onto their female students, causing them to do poorly in the subject, according to a new study, “Female Teachers’ M
Victoria Bellmay's insight:

This article brings up yet another perspective on gender in the classroom.  I picked this one because I thought it addressed a main concern that many people talk about regarding gender stereotypes.  I mentioned in the Narrative Report that I wrote about gender stereotypes that girls might be unintentionally taught that boys are better at math than girls.  This article says that part of this stereotype may stem from some female teachers' anxiety about teaching math, and that this fear is projected onto their female students.  Without realizing it, research shows that female teachers might be encouraging male students to do well in in math more so than female students.  This is what the article said regarding how to work on fixing this issue:  "'We have to be sure that teachers have a chance to work together, to come up with common lessons, talk through curriculum as a group, maybe with a math teacher leader, and to challenge themselves as adults.'"


I think it is fantastic that school districts are realizing that this could be a potential issue and are finding ways to address this by focusing on the anxiety that elementary school teachers might be feeling about math, especially since the majority of elementary school teachers are female.  Having teachers work together in order to overcome this anxiety could be exactly what is needed to help these teachers.  I can see already how University of Maryland is helping to take strides against this.  Even though the school may not be aware that this can be an issue, I feel as though some of the math classes we have to take for the education major can sometimes be very theoretical and very difficult.  At first I was frustrated by this.  However, I feel like my hard work in my math class has paid off.  My classroom placement for EDCI280 this semester was in a 5th grade math class.  I found myself being able to explain math concepts to them in a very clear and concise manner.  The students thought that I was really good at explaining concepts to them.  Although I feel like I am being challenged in that class, after reading this article I think the push for me to understand the concepts is only going to help in the long run.  I definitely do not want to be a teacher that does not allow for all students to be able to excel at math.

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Crossover Kids

How young is too young to change sex? Dateline reports on the complex issues surrounding transgender children. For more on Jeannette Francis' story, go to th...
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One teacher's approach to preventing gender bullying in a classroom

One teacher's approach to preventing gender bullying in a classroom | Gender in the Classroom Environment | Scoop.it
"It’s Okay to be Neither," By Melissa Bollow Tempel
Alie arrived at our 1st-grade classroom wearing a sweatshirt with a hood. I asked her to take off her hood, and she refused. I thought she was just...
Victoria Bellmay's insight:

I realize that there are a lot of different aspects that can fit under the umbrella of "Gender in the Classroom Environment."  Therefore, I am trying to research as many topics as possible to find out as much information as I can about many different aspects about gender in the classroom.  I thought the best place to start was to talk about gender inclusion in the classroom.  I think that from a young age, children are socialized to think in terms of their gender.  Girls are told they are supposed to play with girly toys and wear girly clothes, and vice versa for boys.  I wrote a Narrative Report on this, and I was very interested in researching this topic even further.

 

This blog post tells the story of a teacher who encounters a young girl named Allie.  Allie likes to dress like a boy even though she is technically a girl.  She feels more comfortable dressing like this.  The teacher noticed that many students were taunting Allie about her decision to dress like a boy.  Upon hearing this, the teacher realized that she needed to have a talk about gender with her students.  She created lessons, facilitated discussions, read books about gender roles that students could relate to, and did activities that allowed for the students to realize that it was okay for boys to play with 'girl' things, such as dolls and wear nail polish, and it was okay for girls to play with 'boy' things, such as legos and hot wheels.  What I found the most interesting, however, is the method in which she decided to line children up to go to the bathroom.  The teacher realized that she may make a student uncomfortable by having them line up by gender without realizing it.  The student Allie may feel uncomfortable with having to line up with the girls.  In the blog post she writes, "When the kids came out of the bathroom, they wanted to line up as most classrooms do, in boys’ and girls’ lines. Instead, I thought up a new way for them to line up each day. For example: “If you like popsicles, line up here. If you like ice cream, line up here.” They loved this and it kept them entertained while they waited for their classmates."


I think that this a great way to not only begin teaching students about the issues regarding gender norms, but is also great because students who feel unsure about how they identify themselves or do not want to be teased by their classmates will most likely feel more comfortable with this way of identifying themselves.  I believe that this is a fantastic start to addressing these concerns in the classroom, and I definitely plan on using this method for lining students up when I become a teacher.  Further research will be done about other ways that making the approach to gender comfortable for every single student in the classroom.

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