Teaching about Sex and Gender in the Classroom

Shortly I’ll be presenting at a few high schools as well as at Breaking the Silence.  I’ll be talking about sex, gender, identity and the labels that can help or hinder us as we discover ourselves and how we fit on the spectrum.  I have a pretty good idea of what I’ll be covering, but I really would love to hear from you on the subject.

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the gingerbread man diagrams that have been floating around the net for the last couple of years.  There have been several different incarnations of the drawing, and I’ll be creating my own for my presentations too.  Basically it just maps out the differences between sex, gender, expression, and orientation.  By having this type of illustration handy I hope to equip everyone who is there with the proper language – as that will go a long way to facilitate discussion.

What I’d like to know from anyone who’d be kind enough to reply is this:

If you were, or are, a high school student what would you like to know but might be afraid to ask in a classroom setting?  What would you want to know about sex?  about gender?  about gender expression?  about sexual orientation?  Is there something you wish you knew?  Is there something you do know that you wish others knew?  What would you want discussed that you might be to embarrassed to bring up with a room full of people watching?

I want to ensure that those who need the information, get it.  But if I don’t know what questions people have, I may miss something important.  This is basic information that schools haven’t often given students a chance to learn – information that people often have to discover on their own – feeling alone and insecure.  I want to arm youth with the power that comes with knowledge, and knowing that no matter where we fall on the spectrum, that we’re all totally normal with the potential to be awesome!

gingy from shrek

About Tobi-Dawne

Tobi-Dawne Smith is many things to many people... photographer, canine behaviour expert, equal rights activist, green politician, lactivist, intactivist, writer, crafter, dog handler, third wave feminist, etc. But most important in her life is her role as mother to an amazing five year old. Learn more about TD at http://www.tobi-dawne.com/ follow her blog at https://td365.wordpress.com/ get to know her daughter at http://lilyannslemonade.wordpress.com/ or check out her work at http://tdphotography.me/

Posted on February 28, 2012, in gender variant, Just a Note, lgbt, LGBTTQ, Parenting, People and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I think that people need to have a better understanding of gender variance. At the very least the proper terminology. If a related topic comes up with someone, I often hear the terms ‘transvestite’ or ‘hermaphrodite’. There needs to be a lot more education as to gender in general. Expression as well. I plan to bring this up in psychology tomorrow. We’re about to talk about toddler’s perception of gender in tv shows for their age groups. For both gender and sexual orientation, people need to understand that it’s more of a spectrum than something definite. And there’s nothing wrong with having non-heterosexual attractions or feelings, and just having them doesn’t make you GAY IN THAT INSTANT. Hope this helps! Ps, it’d be cool if you came to marion graham. 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing! I am definitely planning on going into the full spectrum of options, and that while our society seems to insist on viewing gender as binary that there are really as many different genders as there are different people. I didn’t realize that people were still using terms like transvestite or hermaphrodite so loosely, I’ll definitely keep that in mind while putting things together. Neither one is a broad or loose term, they refer to very specific things/people. As for coming to Graham… I don’t know where I’ll be going. The Avenue Community Center is organizing the speakers, so I’ll end up wherever I get sent. I’ll definitely let you know once I know. 🙂

      When Lily-Ann was a toddler we had already begun teaching her that while there are boys and girls, there is also a whole range of people who fit somewhere in between. So while little ones have a limited understanding, it doesn’t need to be as limited as many people seem to think. Can a toddler fully understand sex vs gender? Nope. But both sex and gender have a range between the binary – so whichever a child refers to when they say “boy” or “girl” they can learn just as easily that there is also an “other”. 🙂 Should be an interesting class. Have fun!

  2. I would like to have heard of transsexual success stories, such as Lynn Conway. She has a number of examples on her site, as well as being one herself.

    What of the fact that many m-f transsexual people are sexually aroused by thoughts of presenting female? Knowing this would reduce guilt in the individual, but perhaps promote misunderstanding and prejudice in the rest.

    Oh, and- I love the word lactivist, I had not heard it before, but got it immediately- positive about breast feeding. Good.

    • I’ll definitely see if I can work in successful transition stories, that’s a great idea! As for arousal, that’s a HUGE topic. I’m not sure I’ll have time to dive into it – at least not in a fair and equal manner, ensuring to represent many positions. It will be briefly touched upon in the Orientation bit of the talk, but not in a deep way.

      And yes! Love the word lactivist, and happy to introduce it to someone else. 🙂

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