Gender Inclusive Curriculum

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"Those who gain representation...have a better chance of being humanized." 

- Judith Butler 

We shouldn't limit our inclusive teaching to history or social studies, but instead we should strive to infuse it throughout the day. Everything we do, from teaching grammar to how to play a new game is often embedded with messages about binaries. We present rules and words that break those rules. We present two sides to an argument, we teach opposites. If we want our students to be creative and flexible, we must think critically about how we present all information. How do we talk about high frequency words that break the rules? Are we constantly only presenting two options? How does our teaching define "normal"?

 

One this page we highlight some of the more popular subject areas in elementary school classrooms, but there may, of course, be other ways you incorporate this into your day. 

In order to create a truly gender inclusive classroom, children's lived experiences must be reflected in the books they read and the curriculum they are taught. All too often our curriculum centers around narratives of white heterosexual cisgender men. Children of color, those who identify as female, and those who don't conform to binary genders are often left without adequate representation. While this list is not exhaustive and more research is definitely needed, we hope that these resources will provide tools for integrating more non-dominant voices into classroom curriculum.

Reading

There are more and more books coming out that feature gender creative children as main characters. See our GIC page about books by clicking              

Classroom libraries should include books with diverse characters. Even if there are no students of color or gender creative students in your class, the stories of these characters should be readily available to all students through read alouds or independent reading choices.

Some LGBTQ+ and gender creative authors and links to reading curriculum guides

Writing

In many classrooms, teachers are modeling writing in front of their students. This is an opportunity to introduce children to concepts of gender identity and model appropriate language. In a Realistic Fiction unit, or any unit where students are making up characters, for instance, teachers can model making up a character who is gender creative. On a character map they might write that their character was "assigned female at birth" and continues to use the pronouns "she/her/hers". The character's gender expression might push stereotypical boundaries, however, by having them prefer pants, ties and vests. Their preferences might also include physical activities. You might find that even a small push for students to think more deeply about their character's gender will result in characters with more complex identities and interests.  

Mathematics

Word problems are a great place to start thinking about making math curriculum more gender inclusive. Reread some of the word problems in your printed math curriculum. Are the girls collecting flowers while the boys collect trucks? Are the only families mentioned led by a mother and a father? You can use word problems as a way to talk about gender identity and expression, pronouns, interests and family structures. 

Women, LGBTQ+ and gender creative mathematicians

Science

Many advances in the fields of science have been made by those we do not traditionally read and hear about. Does your science curriculum highlight women, people of color and other gender creative people who have or still are making contributions to the field? How do the textbooks or work books discuss anatomy? Gender? Reproduction? How could you make the language of your teaching more trans inclusionary? How could you break down the social constructs of gender and biological sex? If you're in Upper Elementary, how inclusive are your conversations about puberty, hygiene and sexual health?

Women,  LGBTQ+ and gender creative scientists and researchers

Arts and Media

Students are constantly receiving messages are about what is valued and beautiful in our culture. They must see themselves represented in arts and media. This is also an excellent opportunity for students to create work that is meaningful and relevant to them. Arts and media serve as important platforms for social justice work. 

Women, LGBTQ+ and gender creative artists and actresses, TV hosts

History/Social Studies

This is a fantastic area of the curriculum to start weaving in the voices of people of color, LGBTQ+ leaders and other activists. Think about who is telling the story in your history textbooks. Who is left out? What voices aren't being heard? If you are given choices about the people you study or the topics you pick, are your choices reflective of racial, economic and gender diversity?Are you drawing upon the resources in your local community to help tell their stories? 

Women, LGBTQ+ and gender creative current and historical figures

Music

Music is another area in our curriculum uniquely poised to share the voices of many people. Through careful song choice (in different languages, representing different cultures, written and sung by people of all genders) music teachers can curate a vision of the world that mirrors their students. As in all aspects of the curriculum, it is important for students to see how others like them have made positive contributions to our culture. Music is also an excellent opportunity for creative expression. Students writing and performing their own music can share their stories and inspire others. 

Songs about gender and inclusion

***This song contains the word 'damn.'

Physical Education

Many P.E. teachers are already thinking through the complexities of gender. Instead of taking a gender sensitive approach (QUOTE) by thinking about what boys can do and girls can do, I suggest adopting a gender complex approach even to P.E. These teachers are in a unique position to help all of their students master skills and push themselves. Given the nature of single sex sports teams and lockers rooms, they are also intertwined with many of the legal issues facing the trans and gender nonconforming community. They are in a unique position to support and affirm these students and create social change. 

Women, LGBTQ+ and gender creative athletes

Other Resources for LGBTQ+ History

As of this writing, only one state, California, has instituted an LGBTQ+ curriculum (through the FAIR Education Act). It is our hope that in the future issues of social justice, gender and intersections between identities will be discussed in all classrooms. 

Curriculum Guides and Websites