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Old 03-12-2012, 09:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Just came home from dropping dd at preschool where she told a boy who had fallen in some mud, "Boys and mud go together, and bruises." Fortunately I was standing next to dd and said, "I know some girls who get muddy and bruises too." She looked up and said, "That's me!" I think I need to talk to this teacher about gender and stereotypes, but I need help. I love this teacher, she's smart and creative and adores the kids. She takes them outside a lot, gives them unstructured time and plenty of room to be themselves. But I think maybe she just hasn't thought about gender much. She regularly separates boys and girls for no particular reason, eg always puts worksheets with their names on them in 2 rows, boys and girls; lines them up for pictures as boys and girls; etc etc etc. We live in a rural area where gender differences are assumed to be universal. I do know of one other mom of a boy who has mentioned some of these issues to me, but I don't know if she's ever talked about them with the teacher. I'm thinking about maybe finding some links to some very basic articles about gender and how stereotypes affect children, perhaps . . . and just telling her I found this, thought it was interesting, something like that . . . I already told her about the school in Sweden where they do everything gender-neutrally, and the teacher was completely clueless about why they would want to do that! And the other parents standing around thought it was a terrible thing to do to those poor children . . .Anybody have any suggestions or links?

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Old 03-12-2012, 11:56 AM
 
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I would just talk to her, expressing your concerns in a friendly way. I live in a rural area with similar issues, and I haven't had much luck with the "Here's an article to consider" approach.  The teacher may disagree with you completely, but knowing that you are watching her might change her behavior some.  That may be the best you can hope for.  I would be very specific about the kinds of statements/practices you are wishing she'd avoid.  (For example, I recently expressed to a family member how much I dislike the phrase "girly girl," and why.  It will be hard for that person to use that phrase in my presence without knowing it bothers me.)

 

Good luck with this. 

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Old 03-12-2012, 01:38 PM
 
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Piling their papers boy/girl is likely an easier and more efficient way for the kids to find their work... instead of looking through 20 papers, they just look through 10. Lining them up for pictures, saying boys in one line, girls in another is a fast and easy way to make two lines and get that picture done before everyone get cranky. You may have other more valid examples but those two, I actually see as an efficiency tool more than anything. The fact that this teacher encourages outdoor play and allows them to really be themselves is more telling to the type of environment your child is in than the fact that she breaks the kids up by sex in these instances.

 

Trust what you teach your child at home. If you are secure in your beliefs, your child will be too. Preschoolers categorize. It's what they do. It's their way of making sense of the world. Saying that boys and mud go together is not the same as saying girls can't like mud. It's just an observation and she's not exactly wrong for having it. Boys and girls do play differently and there are some biological reasons why they do. Boys do tend more towards mud and injuries at that age. Are their exceptions? Of course! There are plenty of boys who love dress-up and girls who smash cars together! However, the ability to recognize all the shades of gray develops as a child matures and gets more experience in the world. Your response was just right and that will stick more with her than being in the girl line for pictures.

 

Consider donating some books to the class library. "Horace and Morris but Mostly Delores" is a great book about boys and girls choosing what they like as opposed to choosing what they are told to like. How about "Do Princesses wear Hiking Boots" or "You Forgot Your Skirt Amelia Bloomer" though "Amelia Bloomer" is a little wordy for your average preschool circle time.

 

It never hurts to have a conversation with the teacher on the matter but sometimes we have to choose our battles. Unless she's breaking the kids up by sex and sending the boys to the legos and the girls to the play kitchen, I wouldn't worry about it too much. If you love everything else about this teacher, this may not be the hill to die on.


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Old 03-12-2012, 02:13 PM
 
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Also, it swings the other way.  There may be boys that like "feminine" things.  A book I like about that is "My Princess Boy."


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Old 03-12-2012, 03:57 PM
 
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I think that whatsnextmom makes a good point, that often these things are done unthinkingly out of convenience, but I don't think they should be.  It is just as easy to say, all the kids who like green here, all the kid who like red over here ( or dogs/cats) etc.  Just because it's a habit doesn't make it a good habit.  Most kids are forming their ideas of gender and gender norms at this age, it is prime time to challenge their beliefs and reconsider.  Many people who identify as gay or with non-traditional gender roles say that around kindergarten was when they started to really notice they were different.  This age group is already rife with attitudes like girls don't like cars and boys can't play dolls, there is no need to throw fuel on that fire. 

 

I"m also rural, and I've been trying to make a difference in this in my school.  I think that all those kids that are so lost when they're teens have spent a whole lot of life feeling like an outsider, before they got to the highschool gay-straight alliances and such.  And, when my dd came home asking for a new lunch kit because people made fun of her for being a girl with a "cars" lunch box I felt sad for her, and angry for all girls who want a Cars lunchbox (or whatever!). ( Good thing they didn't see her underwear!  lol  )  It doesn't matter how strong I am in my beliefs, the clear message on the playground is different and there's nothing I can say to change that.  At best she learns that not everyone thinks like us; at worst she learns that everyone thinks differently than us.  Either way, she learns that there are for sure some places in the world where she will be punished on some level for being who she is, even at a sheltered 'safe' place like school. 

 

This article is fabulous http://www.rethinkingschools.org/archive/26_01/26_01_tempel.shtml

 

and these are some good reading resources:

http://www.acceptingdad.com/supportive-book-media-for-gender-variant-non-conforming-kids./

 

A few more recent books ( My Princess Boy, 10,000 Dresses to name 2 great ones) are missing from this list but it's pretty comprehensive.  I found that the library at my school was pretty receptive to buying books suggested by parents, especially more inclusive ones.  I also brought the issue of gender norms up at the Parent council meeting, and have done a bit of networking with some teachers as well.  I'm trying to get a poster project underway but it's hard to coordinate people - the ones who are interested of course have a gajillion things on the go. 

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Old 03-12-2012, 06:22 PM
 
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 It doesn't matter how strong I am in my beliefs, the clear message on the playground is different and there's nothing I can say to change that.  



It does matter though. Kids make choices at certain periods of their lives to fit in but that doesn't mean those are life choices. In preschool, boys and girls spend a lot of time trying to identify what is "for girls" and what is "for boys." It passes. In 4th grade, boys and girls start getting teased for playing together. That passes too. Lots of girls become name brand fashion hounds in middle school and again that passes as well. We all went through it and yet it seems like there are plenty of capable and free-thinking females on board. Most kids come back to their roots when raised in a communicative and rational manner. What you say matters and that is really the ONLY thing you can totally control in your child's life.

 

I know, newer parents really hate this sort of talk. I do understand the fear and worry. I'm just saying that you don't have as much to fear as you think. Look around... this isn't the 50's. We've hit the point where girls are statistically doing better in school, more are going to college than boys and they are out there in the work force doing things they are passionate about. How many girls do you really meet that feel their only option is to be housewives? I haven't met any. If anything, it's the boys we need to stress about who are being drugged up for ADHD at higher and higher levels because they don't work as well in the female dominated elementary school system that values female behavioral traits over boys now. 

 

Boys and Girls are different... thank goodness. They are equally capable but they are different. Kids are going to recognize that and they may even point out what they see. They go through phases that make you wonder if they have EVER listened to ANYTHING you ever said. Then they turn around and make you proud. I know, it's not what anyone wants to hear when their kids are 4 and 5 but give it 10 years, you'll worry less about boy and girl lines.

 

 


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Old 03-12-2012, 06:26 PM
 
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CLearly your 15 yr old isn't one of the ones who's felt marginalized and bullied to the point of suicide due to gender differences. 

 

ETA OP -  You might get some more info about this kind of thing from the Queer parenting area :)

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Old 03-12-2012, 10:15 PM
 
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CLearly your 15 yr old isn't one of the ones who's felt marginalized and bullied to the point of suicide due to gender differences. 

 

ETA OP -  You might get some more info about this kind of thing from the Queer parenting area :)

 

I'm not sure what this has to do with being bullied. No, my DD hasn't been bullied for being different. She's pretty bully proof despite having plenty of targetable traits. My DS was bullied for years  resulting in pulling him out of a school program he loved. He wasn't bullied due to gender issues but bullied just the same 

 

The OP likes this teacher. She seems to like her a lot. It doesn't sound like there are lots of options. So the teacher has the kids line up by sex, that's hardly the same as berating and bullying a child for gender differences and we do ourselves a real disservice when we suggest they are. 

 

If your child is having such issues, I highly recommend interest based activities that support them. DD's a classroom aide in a theatre and she has a transgender child in her class. He's totally accepted in that environment. I grew up in theatre as have my kids and it's a real oasis for different children. The arts in general are a good place to start.


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Old 03-12-2012, 10:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the input. Donating books to the class library is a great idea. I love the rethinking schools article.

Have to go with Jen on dividing by gender as a convenience. I'd hate to make the teacher's very challenging job less convenient, but I don't see the need to emphasize the differences between boys and girls.

I know the women's studies I took in college was a long time ago, so I'm trying to find some more recent stuff on boy/girl differences. Not finding much that convinces me either way. But I still think that it's a slippery slope from "boys and girls are different," to "How are they different?" to "Boys are like this and girls are like that," then "Boys SHOULD be like this, girls SHOULD be like that." Every time a girl is girly or a boy is rambunctious, somebody says, "See, girls and boys really are different!" If a boy is girly, nobody says, "Oh, maybe they're not so different after all," they say, "That weird boy is acting like a girl." And yes, I do think it is generally much harder for boys than girls, it's just that my kids happen to be girls.

 

True, women don't expect to be housewives anymore (though every at-home parent in my kid's playgroup is a mom), but I think it's mostly economic.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/22/science/22women.html

Interesting article here about how women are still sorely underrepresented in technology and math fields, even in spite of the fact that they perform better in school in general and go to college at a higher rate.

 

Jen, here's an article that might be of interest to you. I'm hesitant to give it to my kid's teacher, though, because I don't want her to take it negatively.

http://www.unicef.org/teachers/learner/gender.htm

Welcoming more comments.

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Old 03-12-2012, 11:03 PM
 
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It has to do with bullying because this is where bullying starts.  Whenever you create a narrow idea of what is normal, and especially if you then institutionalize that idea, you create a place for bullying and prejudice to start and grow. 

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Old 03-13-2012, 06:23 AM
 
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It has to do with bullying because this is where bullying starts.  Whenever you create a narrow idea of what is normal, and especially if you then institutionalize that idea, you create a place for bullying and prejudice to start and grow. 



I really disagree with you. Boy papers on one table and girl papers on the other table doesn't lead to bullying and suicide.  I suspect that teens who do end up committing suicide over gender/sexual orientation issues are far more troubled by how their parents have reacted to them than how their preschool teacher distributed papers.

 


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Old 03-13-2012, 07:44 AM
 
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I really disagree with you. Boy papers on one table and girl papers on the other table doesn't lead to bullying and suicide.  I suspect that teens who do end up committing suicide over gender/sexual orientation issues are far more troubled by how their parents have reacted to them than how their preschool teacher distributed papers.

 



But what is the process that leads parents to reject children who do not conform to gender roles? Separating worksheets by sex (as well as other similar activities) has apparently made an impression on the OP's child. I'm not saying that the OP's child will grow up to expect rigid gender roles in her children, but that's because her mother (and hopefully other influences, like books she reads) is challenging these constructs. You can't just say "no big deal" and not address it and assume she will magically understand that gender roles are actually not rigid despite input otherwise. And if queer bullying doesn't start with a rigid view of gender, then what?


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Old 03-13-2012, 09:41 AM
 
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I'm not saying that that one act of separating papers by boys and girls causes bullying and suicide - I'm saying that institutionalizing what is gender normal, and underlining the differences between boys and girls when we know that not everyone fits neatly into those categories, is the starting point for bullying and suicide.  It would be horrifying to most parents if their children were told to line up by skin color or religion; there is no doubt that sorting people by these criteria is prejudicial.  Why would sorting by any other significant means not be prejudicial as well? Sorting by boy/girl makes sense because it is widely accepted that those are the only 2 options.  By not creating space for other gender ideas when we know they exist we perpetuate the stereotypes.  Girls are separated from the boys and repeatedly told they belong in the girls group, so their need to attach finds similarities between the group and they act to become more like the group.  Girls who do not fit well in the group get identified as different, and start to become an outsider.  My daughter doesn't have any gender issues that I'm aware of, but she avoids mentioning that she loves "Cars" at school and at playgroups.  She gets teased for loving the color orange instead of pink.  She prefers to hang with a couple of the quieter boys, and gets teased for that.  Fortunately she is a pretty solid, well balanced and socially competent little kid, and it pretty much rolls off her back.  I can see her change her behavior tho, and I can see how a more sensitive kid, or a kid who really was struggling with gender issues could feel left out and stigmatized.   I've seen my kids come home struggling with wanting to play with the boys, or with one of their friends being teased because he wanted to play with the girls.  I know they make choices of clothes and accessories based on whether they are going to get bugged about it or not.  It would be unnatural for them not to.  They are all reacting perfectly normally to the system they have been put in.

 

ETA:  so far as queer kids being more troubled by their parents than their peers, that is a cop out.  For starters, several of the kids who have committed suicide for being bullied have said in their blogs or suicide notes that they have been loved and accepted by their families and close friends, and have been described by others as loved and well supported.  It appears that the sense that they would never fit in outside of their group was overwhelming, or in some cases that they would never be able to get away from their tormentor(s).  Certainly some kids, maybe even many kids, with gender issues have trouble being understood at home but to use that to discount how they are also not being understood at school is missing the point. 

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Old 03-13-2012, 10:09 AM
 
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You can't just say "no big deal" and not address it and assume she will magically understand that gender roles are actually not rigid despite input otherwise. And if queer bullying doesn't start with a rigid view of gender, then what?


It think we'll need to pick this discussion up in 10 years. Your child is young and you are clearly passionate and very worried about outside influences but until you see how strong your children are, I don't think you'll understand where I'm coming from. I was raised a vegetarian and an atheist and have been raising 2 children the same. On top of that both my kids are unusual and break all sorts of gender and age stereotypes as did I growing up. I send my kids to school everyday where they are bombarded with ideas we don't prescribe to and yet, they hold strong to what we as a family feel is right. The trick really is confidence and rational thinking. My children come across a person telling them they'll go to hell, that they'll get sick from not eating meat or that someone their age shouldn't be able to do that and they see fear, ignorance and insecurity. They come home to rational conversation, the ability to recognize and respect other beliefs, compassion for what motivates others, an educated position on their own beliefs and parents who trust them to make good choices... fearmongering and cluelessness can't compete with that. I know that even if my children grow to make different choices that they'll at least be ones they have really thought about and that they will continue to be good people.

 

The bullying of gay people stems from fear... the fear that we are all so weak that any influence can change us. When we give SO much power to how papers are stacked, we feed right into that mentality. There are so many battles to be fought but we can't fight them with more fear. We fight them by raising children who think for themselves despite outside influences not stressing over what line they stand in. It's slower progress but it's progress that really matters. In our family, we talk about "cards." We know that if we fight EVERY infraction, that we will just turn into white noise and no one will listen. We'll just be "that family" who freaks out over everything. However, if we are play our cards when it really matters, we get real results that make the most difference. When the kids come home frustrated we'll say "is it worth a card"... sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't.


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Old 03-13-2012, 10:13 AM
 
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Your child is young and you are clearly passionate and very worried about outside influences but until you see how strong your children are, I don't think you'll understand where I'm coming from.



headscratch.gif Did you mean to quote me?


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Old 03-13-2012, 10:33 AM
 
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headscratch.gif Did you mean to quote me?



I fixed the part that I was actually responding too but I'm speaking in general to those who feel this teacher really has THAT much influence. 


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Old 03-13-2012, 10:48 AM
 
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Well, I'm still not sure if it was me you meant to call "clearly passionate" etc. (I just joined the discussion and threw in my two cents) but I do agree with the others that separating children by sex is problematic. The OP's child is proof that it does actually resonate with them. I think it's a fair analogy to say that separating children by race also makes a big statement about how to classify people, and few would find it appropriate.

 

I don't think anyone is saying that lining up boys and girls immediately leads to bullying as a direct causal effect. But this is another brick in the wall, so to speak, and certainly worth talking about. Also, for some boys and girls (not the OP's DD, apparently), this act is directly problematic. Gender is not strictly binary. Some children do not conform, and that can indeed lead directly to bullying when they are forced to declare their gender (and when the declaration does not fit with social expectations). Ask some of the mamas right here on MDC, this isn't a theoretical problem but a real one.


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Old 03-13-2012, 10:53 AM
 
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I haven't read all the responses in detail (although I think that suicide isn't necessarily an endpoint, gender bullying does start in school and teachers can play an important role in preventing that), but this article might be helpful for the OP.

 

http://togetherforjacksoncountykids.tumblr.com/post/14314184651/one-teachers-approach-to-preventing-gender-bullying-in

 

 


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Old 03-13-2012, 10:54 AM
 
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Whatsnextmom-  Your assertion that this is a young parent issue, and that we'll all see the light in 10 years is dismissive.  You have no idea how new a mom I am, or what other experience I am basing my comments on.  I shouldn't have to tell you that my eldest is 22 for you to consider that my comments might be valid, or at the very least not a result of inexperience.  Frankly, I'm not especially worried about my kids; I don't like that they are exposed to this stuff, and I am going to talk about it and try and change it, but they'll be fine.  I'm far more worried about the kids who go home to parents who freak out when their boy wants to wear nail polish, and that my community and my world seems to think that it's ok to marginalize people who have different genders or understanding of gender roles.  We all have a responsibility to make our world a safe place, to reduce bias and to let children know they are loved. 

 

 

(edited for clarity)

 

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Old 03-13-2012, 01:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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 There are so many battles to be fought but we can't fight them with more fear.


Hm. Didn't know I was acting so much from fear. Will have to think about that. And I definitely don't want to get into a battle, wouldn't do that unless a situation was very extreme, to say the least. Mostly I was wondering about ways to open a conversation about gender with an open-minded person who perhaps hasn't thought about it very much. This conversation is giving me lots to think about. Thanks to everyone.

 

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Old 03-13-2012, 01:54 PM
 
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I don't think that challenging ideas about how we categorize people is working from a place of fear.  Working to challenge notions of how others are different, and exploring those differences is about removing ignorance and the fear it causes.  Removing the constructs that cause arbitrary groups to be formed helps with that.  If it was just about stacking papers, it wouldn't be an issue - but it's not.  There are countless tiny reminders that add up to a much bigger and less innocuous picture. 

 

And frankly, even if it was about stacking papers - if that makes even one kid uncomfortable, how big a deal is it to change how you stack papers?  Or choose how to make a line?  If it's no big deal then why not do it a different way?

 

If I was the OP would I fight this battle?  I guess that depends with what you call fighting.  I think her strategy of trying to start a conversation is awesome.  Keep it non-confrontational and non-judgemental, but sure bring it up.  Bring it up at the parent council, so that the school staff is aware that this is something parents are concerned about.  All the kindy teachers I've worked with at my school make a point of breaking up groups that form on gender lines; there's no boys only tables and girls only tables at snack time, for example.  Sometimes they've moved stations around or limited access to certain toys so that others can play too - for instance, the big blocks tended to be hogged by some more rambunctious boys in one class, so the teacher devised a plan that would allow the girls and quieter boys to have time to play with those toys too.  There are lots of ways to fight gender bias. 

 

To say this is about stacking papers is to say segregation was about who got to drink out of what fountain.  Both are just a small piece of what turns out to be a much larger issue, but that doesn't mean they aren't part of the problem.

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Old 03-13-2012, 02:47 PM
 
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Quote:
But what is the process that leads parents to reject children who do not conform to gender roles? Separating worksheets by sex (as well as other similar activities) has apparently made an impression on the OP's child. I'm not saying that the OP's child will grow up to expect rigid gender roles in her children, but that's because her mother (and hopefully other influences, like books she reads) is challenging these constructs. You can't just say "no big deal" and not address it and assume she will magically understand that gender roles are actually not rigid despite input otherwise. And if queer bullying doesn't start with a rigid view of gender, then what?

I totally agree with this and with what Jen has been addressing.

 

I would be livid and not have my child in this situation (we are raising our child gender neutral) and do see that children (even that young) see and are effected when adults make gender typing such as what the teacher is doing. We left a program (not a preschool) because of another parent that overly gendered so much and it is not fitting with what we are teaching. I completely understand what is taught at home and how the outside effects children and I have also seen how the confusion does begin when young and impressionable minds are subjected to gender typing.

 

I also know that in certain areas MANY parents push gender and would expect the teacher to do the things that were mentioned and may very well not take well to OP suggesting an alternative to this---simply may not go over well with the teacher and "talk" among other parents. If the OP knows another mother that may feel the same way- gang up and go to the teacher together if you expect any thing to happen-IMO

 

Many mainstream preschool programs (in my area) not only do what the OP mentioned but even more segregation of gender and MANY parents want this and simple see nothing wrong with it irked.gif


 

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Old 03-13-2012, 09:42 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Jen Muise View Post


And frankly, even if it was about stacking papers - if that makes even one kid uncomfortable, how big a deal is it to change how you stack papers?  Or choose how to make a line?


Even most gays and lesbians know that they are a boy or a girl based on their penis or vagina. I can think of many, many reasons to reduce dividing children into boys and girls constantly, but the outside chance that some "girl trapped in a boy's body" is in the room will eventually off him/herself is beyond the scope of what most preschool teachers are dealing with.

 

I think this kind of outlier thinking weakens the reasons to make changes which are positive for ALL kids.

 

The reasons I would request things be less divided by gender is to help the children learn to think of themselves as people first, and as their gender second. I think that's helpful for all children, even the girls who are girly.  I'm sure there are lots of ways to divide the children that could mix things up and be interesting -- by what color they are wearing, how tall the are, the first letter of their first name, the first letter of their last last.  Do things different ways just to get the kids thinking in different ways.

 

This is the sort of issue I got far more worked up over when my kids were young. It hasn't turned out to be an issue. They are both comfortable just being who they are. Seeing how other people in our culture process gender hasn't screwed them up.


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Old 03-14-2012, 12:18 AM
 
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Linda, I find your post dismissive and quite offensive.  "Even" gay and lesbian kids can figure out what genitalia they have?  really?  You are suggesting that trans- or otherwise gendered people just haven't figured out if they have a dangly bit or not?  "even" those queer kids, as  messed up as they are, know that!  </end sarcasm> You might not think that queer and transgender kids count for much, but the chances are good that in a class of 20 kids at least one of them will identify as LGTB when they are older.

 

I guess you must be against the kind of outlier thinking that brings us wheelchair accessibility, too.  I've been involved with my school of 700-800 kids for 6 years now, haven't seen a single kid in a wheelchair.  I haven't seen any at the other schools I've visited either, come to think of it. Most people would agree that schools need to be prepared to accommodate kids who are not ambulatory, and to make school a safe place for them even though they do not represent a typical member of the school population.  They are just as much outliers as a gender struggling kindergartener, if not more so.  You might not think that queer and transgender kids count for much, but the chances are good that in a class of 20 kids at least one of them will identify as LGTB when they are older.  There are also plenty of kids who will never identify as LGBT but will struggle with being a tomboy or being a 'girly' boy.  IME, there is usually at least one of each in every class.  I'm sure you'll agree that arguing to make all schools wheelchair accessible because some kids might have a temporary cast has less teeth and less urgency than that it allows kids in wheelchairs to go to school, even tho more kids with casts will go through school than kids with wheelchairs; so I'm not sure how you figure that adding a serious, altho somewhat uncommon, situation to the argument would weaken it.  If it helps many kids some of the time, and rare kids all of the time, how can that be bad?

 

I totally stand by my statement "

And frankly, even if it was about stacking papers - if that makes even one kid uncomfortable, how big a deal is it to change how you stack papers?  Or choose how to make a line?"

 

Reducing this statement to only apply to "some "girl trapped in a boy's body" <who> will eventually off him/herself" is missing the point, and also offensive and dismissive.  There are plenty of reasons that a kid might be uncomfortable being constantly sorted as a boy or girl that don't require them to be actively questioning their gender.  Perhaps their best friend is the opposite gender, and they'd like to be in their group for a change; perhaps they are being teased because they are hanging out with the other gender, and they don't need it pointed out once again that they 'should' be with their own group; perhaps they will be making choices as a group and they prefer choices that are more aligned with the other gender's choices. Furthermore, I don't think that reducing bullying and talking about social justice is outside of the scope of a kindergarten teacher.  From my experience, neither do the teachers, or the board - in my kids kindergarten classes it was mandated that they talk about issues like bullying, creating safe spaces, acceptance, social justice, and challenge some gender norms (mostly by pointing out women in science, but it's a start).

 

That said, the OP would probably do better starting a conversation with the teacher using some of the more universal reasons for not sorting by gender, not because it's outlier thinking, but because there is still too much ignorance, apathy, and prejudice against other gendered people to use that argument as a starting point. 

 

 

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Old 03-14-2012, 05:55 AM
 
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not because it's outlier thinking, but because there is still too much ignorance, apathy, and prejudice against other gendered people to use that argument as a starting point. 

exactly the point here!

 

 

sorting by gender in this case-why is this even being done---mostly to make it easier for the teacher? not a reason in my mind-

 

no pre school child needs to conform to a gender and be labeled and have activities all day related to it-what is the NEED for it? how is this positive?? you have a child that plays mostly with children of the other sex and now it's line up time and CLEARLY you are different and this is OK? picture time- let's make sure the children all know they are different---again this is positive???

 

WHY is gender even needed at this level? that is not letting the child figure anything out- it's pure assignment?

 

aren't there more important things that should be the factors here? empathy, compassion for starters and less focus on gender rolls perhaps?

 

 

 

for those who can't grasp this - it is just what some like Jen are talking about - it clearly starts at this age and it progresses down hill for most-you are fit into a box (like the teacher is making by comments about boys and mud, not to mention all the other statements the OP said)-commenting that this does happen, maybe you know no one this has effected and how the early years left lasting marks on them??

 

this same stuff also happened to my DH in preschool and he resents it to this day and he is a pure male-yes, gender segregation in preschools use to be far worse - he was told what he could and could not play with and gender segregation was so rampant and he still recalls how it made him not feel at ease 


 

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Old 03-21-2012, 06:11 PM
 
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I'm going to jump in here and quote the article "One teacher's approach to prevent gender bullying in the classroom", found here.

 

 

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 people often separate kids by their perceived gender or what their birth certificate says instead based on something else because on face value it's quick and easy.  This teacher thought up different ways to sort his class, and the same could be done with worksheets (A-M on this table, N-Z on this table).  

 

The fact that Lego now has an entire line of "Girl's lego" only serves to undermine how deeply rooted gender roles are in our society.  I work with Girl Guides and have Sparks (ages 5-6) and I brought a big tub of Lego to camp along with tons of books and markers and paper and one of them exclaimed "girls don't play with lego!" (her mother was appalled and pointed out to her daughter that she plays with Lego every day).  

 

And yes, more women go to college and are doing better at school than men, but several glaring differences remain:

-women still earn less than men

-there are WAY fewer women in top spots than men, and not because they don't want it.

-men in female dominated professions (nursing, teaching, SAHDs) are devalued, because of their profession (i.e., men who choose to be nurses are ALWAYS asked if they are gay.  Out of the 230 nurses I work with, only FIVE are men, and only ONE of them is gay).  

-in parenting and house-care, women are still viewed as the primary caregivers/caretakers.

-women are still raped.  A lot.  Like, a lot a lot.  Sexism and misogyny is alive and well.

-Have you LOOKED at the media?  Beyonce wrote a song called "Girls Run the World", and while I was like "ok, technically GIRLS don't, but women do", but thought the song was neat, and then saw the video.  Um, WTF?!  Britney Spears was set up to fail, and then people mocked her and took her kids away when she went off the deep end.  Women are so deeply sexualized still.  The message given to girls is that their appearance is the only thing that matters.  THIS STARTS EARLY, and it's something as simple as the constant reinforcement that girls are girls and boys are boys and that there are huge huge differences between the two.

 

 

 

There's more to this, and more articles I would share, but I have to go to work!  :)  Cheers!


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Old 04-12-2012, 03:34 PM
 
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I know I'm a little late on this one, but boy, do I have some "live and learn" to offer here.

 

First of all, I consider myself "transgendered" although I don't agree with the DSM diagnosis or consider it a "disorder", and I don't believe gender is a concrete thing. I also came out as such before I had children so my entire child-rearing life has been through this lens. I raised my girls without gender. They are the epitome of girly girls. But they have friends who blur gender boundaries, DD14 is friends with a transgendered boy who is something of a player and has dated probably half of her friends. Her friends have gender neutral names half the time and were raised in similar circumstances. She is the class president and recently delivered a speech to her entire middle school (1000+ kids) about not bullying in the wake of a 6th grader ending up on life support. He wasn't beaten up for being gay, but at a different school than hers, he probably would have been. She goes to a magnet school where queer/gender fluid/trans kids are not unusual and it's the least of anyone's social problems. Raising kids to believe gender is an important thing (and concrete, that's the main issue) will just set them up to see anyone who deviates from gender norms as "weird" and generally therefore wrong or "not normal". The media in this country delivers the wrong message about anyone who's not straight or doesn't fit into one of two boxes, so it is essential that parents AND teachers make sure kids grow up knowing it's okay to be different as long as it's not hurting anyone else.

 

As an educator, I feel it is the burden of the education system to teach children that difference is "normal" and no one should be punished for being different. Even if a child doesn't set out to cause harm, being raised in an environment where only two finite, birth assigned genders are options will meld their mind to believe anyone falling outside of these categories is either wrong, crazy, or otherwise misguided. Kids need to be able to categorize things. They like when something fits easily inside a box of right or wrong, good or bad, this or that, whatever the case may be. That is why it is essential, from an early age, that gender and sexuality and so many other facets of human interaction are not things that go into boxes. As well meaning as this teacher may be, she needs to understand that educating difference is important. You teach children that it doesn't matter what color they are, what religion they ascribe to, so gender and sexuality should be included, too. The inequality of gender is also important IMHO, maybe not this young but definitely by the time they get out of elementary school.

 

I do a lot of work with children, but gender is most omnipresent when it comes to face painting. DP and I run a successful face painting business and I spend at a minimum 4+ hours per week face painting random kids, the majority being 3-6. I have intentionally made my reference images as gender neutral as possible, but it is amazing how kids will say "This one's for girls" or "That's a boy design," based on whatever arbitrary criteria they have been taught to discern gender. But parents say the most gender biased things of all: "Don't get that scary one, get something pretty" to their girls and "Are you really going to get that?" to boys who DON'T pick the "scary" ones. There are many parents who are amazingly accepting, however: a boy came to me and got a unicorn one week, and the next week he came back wearing fairy wings and got a butterfly. I gave a disabled 7 year old a unicorn AND a pirate beard once, and I can only imagine she had the nerve to do so because she's used to being different and has been courageous enough not to care what other people think. At 7. I have faith she will turn out great ;)  I ask every kid if they want glitter. More than half the boys say yes.

 

Personally, I spent many years of my life as a gender I didn't feel any certain connection to, going through the motions and wearing the clothes or hair I thought was appropriate. I wish I had discovered my gender identity earlier. It's not like my parents were anti-queer/trans, in fact, they had a handful of queer friends, some of whom were drag queens. I asked my mom, when I was 3, if I was gay. She told me that was something I need to figure out for myself. As supportive as my parents were, they didn't educate me that gender could be something besides "girl" or "boy" and I wish I had known there was a different option.


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Old 04-19-2012, 12:30 PM
 
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Piling their papers boy/girl is likely an easier and more efficient way for the kids to find their work... instead of looking through 20 papers, they just look through 10. Lining them up for pictures, saying boys in one line, girls in another is a fast and easy way to make two lines and get that picture done before everyone get cranky. You may have other more valid examples but those two, I actually see as an efficiency tool more than anything.

What if the teacher stacked their papers or had them line up by race? "White kids over, black kids over there." Would it seem as benign? As efficient?

There was actually a study that came up quite recently about this very issue, OP.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/208217.php

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Old 04-23-2012, 05:34 PM
 
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What if the teacher stacked their papers or had them line up by race? "White kids over, black kids over there." Would it seem as benign? As efficient?
There was actually a study that came up quite recently about this very issue, OP.
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/208217.php

 

Interesting article-- thanks for posting. I noticed this when my son was in kindergarten and it always bothered me. The teachers also tended to seat the kids by sex-- girls with girls and the boys with boys. In preschool, the kids played in mixed groups. In kindergarten, this started to change. I don't think the teachers' intentions are to contribute to gender stereotyping, but that does not mean that this type of practice is benign.


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Old 04-25-2012, 07:37 AM
 
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Yes! When I was teaching violin group classes, I always tried to divide the kids up in different ways, not by gender. It's sort of an awareness thing, and perhaps the teacher could be made aware that you would love it if she'd mix it up a bit.

 

For instance, you could do birthdays by season, which gives you four groups. She should avoid doing things that highlight physical characteristics, like tall kids here, short kids here (unless she is making rows for choir!). 

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