Let's talk about Gender. Gender norms that are instituted by society. Think about when a child is born, the first question is "Is it a boy or a girl?" Depending on the answer, presents arrive either pink, blue, cars, and dolls. This sets a precedent that girls play with dolls and wear pink, and boys play with trucks and play football. Our culture has normalized what gender each child is based on their sex. What happens when a male child decides to wear dresses and high heel shoes and play mommy? Hurtful name calling ensues, the parents confused seek out counseling for the child and the rest is history as the child struggles with gender identity. In a Sweden preschool, the administration has implemented the de-emphasizing of gender. Swedish School De-emphasizes Gender Masculine and feminine references are taboo, and often replaced by the pronoun “hen,” an artificial and genderless word.
Why is this important? Individuals who do not fit in society's box of norms struggle to be who they are as society selfishly denies them their rights. We need to be aware and sensitive to the issues these
students face. We cannot turn away from these students who are bullied
and struggling. Information about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender,
and Queer (LGBTQ) youth and their struggles, (bullying, suicide) especially in their
pre-college years explores the power dynamics inherent in discussing gender.
Jr high and high school are hard enough with peer pressure looming over you, and it becomes even more tragic when name calling, bullying and hazing causes the question of life and being. We have all seen the newspaper articles and news of young adults who commit suicide Salem Teen Committed Suicide Gay Oregon Teen, Takes Life. I ask myself, what can I do to stop the bullying, stop the suicides, and have everyone just love everyone the way they are?
I attended a class at Oregon State University that discussed Queer Public Policy; basically what is wrong public policy in society and the norms that are inflicted upon individuals. We are not all square pegs waiting to be placed in square holes. Some are round, triangle, oblonge, etc. I wondered what would happen if the school system began an education program of how do individuals do gender and what is gender? I imagine open discussion between students, and the teachers as facilitators. Parents would be required to attend sessions to explore definitions of gender: transgender,
transsexual, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, and gender-variant
people.One of my peers from my Queer Public Policy class made a video that illustrates how we are all made differently and yet we all embrace the same need to be loved, cherished, and valued. Cakes of different colors, sizes and shapes
Schools should create safe places where students can discuss gender norms and how some individuals have moved outside the center in order to be themselves. Not conforming to society's gender norms doesn't make us any less human; it makes that person more of who they are and how they identify with their body. I encourage you to watch Geena Rocero, a famous model, in her Ted Talk Geena Rocero: Why I Must Come Out . Education encompassing these topics will result in less bullying, less suicide, and an environment of acceptance for who each person is - unique and special. Paulo Freire in his book "Pedagogy of the Oppressed" illustrates how we as humans are curious. It is through this curiosity that we can learn from each other causing a oneness that transcends boundaries set upon us by society. We should all venture outside the center and join those in the margins to learn and understand that we are all human and we all like ice cream. Maybe some like ice cream on sugar cones and others in bowls, but we all like ice cream!