We are parents and educators committed to a just and equitable society. This blog is a forum to share ideas and resources to help us teach our children and ourselves about social equity issues.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cultivating healthy gender identities in our children

Hello Parents, Guardians and Teachers!

I want to make sure that you are aware of the parent/ guardian diversity education event at our school this coming Monday, November 14th, in the Community Room from 8:45 am - 10 am. Nathan Shara from Seattle Safe Schools is coming to facilitate a discussion on gender identity in our children and how we can foster healthy gender development.

This week I thought of how applicable and necessary this conversation is for families as I read this article from the New York Times, about a just released study which reports that almost 50% of 7-12 graders experience sexual harassment at school. Given what we know about how gender identity is restricted and defended, with femininity characterized as pretty and passive and masculinity idealized as active and virile, it is not surprising that the harassment girls report involves being perceived as overly (hetero)sexual, with taunts of "slut" and "whore." For boys, the bullying revolves around being perceived as not traditionally heterosexual enough, with being called "gay" the most commonly described harassment.

The scope of this problem for our children and in our schools suggests that this is a concern for all families. We can learn how to help our children both defend themselves and resist the impulse to harm others by understanding how to cultivate healthy gender identity in our children. I hope you can come and participate in this important discussion.


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