Breaking the Gender-Labeling Habit Early
In February of this year, the department of elementary and secondary education for my state of Massachusetts issued guidelines that grant transgender students the right to access school bathrooms, use locker rooms, and play on athletic teams for their preferred, self-identified gender. The document also directs schools to honor student preferences for name and gender-specific pronoun usage. It is relatively easy to see how these newly protected rights relate to the high school setting, but it is less clear what the appropriate translation should be for our younger students who are more likely to be perplexed by their feelings and unclear regarding their choices. A good place to begin is for us to rethink common elementary school practices of labeling and sorting children by gender, because those behaviors both contribute to the stigma experienced by transgender students and reinforce detrimental...
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