Perhaps I’m just sensitive from those days in elementary school where the teachers likely wanted us to learn math skills like sorting and classification.
“Everyone with blue eyes stand over here on the right. Everyone with brown eyes, stand over here on the left. Now let’s count!”
You see, I have Iris Nevus which means my eyes are two different colors. One is all blue and the other is half-blue and half-brown. Where do I stand? Where do I fit in?
Teachers do this daily in classrooms across the world – boys on one side and girls on the other. What if you don’t fit into that arbitrary binary?
It’s also common practice to address the class, “Okay boys and girls, let’s get ready for lunch.” Or, “Girls, it’s time to wash hands.” “Boys, putting the paints away.”
Why do we address children by their gender groups anyway? It’s just a demographic label. We don’t address them in the following ways (or I hope we don’t anyway):
- “Okay neurotypical and non-neurotypical children, time to line up!”
- “Black, Latino, Asian, & Caucasian students, it’s time to go outside!”
- “Wealthy, middle-class, and poor, time for snack!”
We would be horrified in a classroom where children were spoken to in those categorized ways. So why is addressing the class by gender labels okay? Why do young children constantly need to be reminded of their gender?
When we label children in this way, it highlights to them that gender is important… That being a boy or a girl is so important, it is how adults address the entire classroom community.
How about, “time to go outside everyone?”
We’re all human after all; let’s start there…