Gender Fluidity in Schools


Dealing with Gender Fluidity in SchoolsBefore the ‘80’s, it was the rare family that openly discussed sexual orientation. I remember universal shock when it was discovered that “The Village People” singers, best known for their hit song which is still sung today at baseball games, “At the YMCA”, were all homosexual. Even Liberace was never openly recognized as homosexual.

In my elementary school in the early ‘70’s, there was one girl who kept a very short haircut and had rough and tough interests. It never occurred to any of us that she might be a lesbian-the term was not known. Rather, she was a “tomboy”-a girl who was boyish.

With the exhaustive stream of news and pictures of Olympic gold winner, Bruce Jenner’s transformation into Caitlyn Jenner, public acceptance of flexible gender orientation has become a national trend.

Today, schools are facing increasing challenges in handling sexuality. Being “gender-specific” seems to be passé. In deference to a seemingly growing demand, Miraloma Elementary School in San Francisco, California has decided to do away with gender specific bathrooms demonstrating gender fluidity in schools today.

Parents’ interviewed by the Chronicle about the Miraloma school decision stated that the gender neutral bathrooms made them seem “just like home bathrooms”. Parents of children who were transgender felt relieved that their child did not have to choose which bathroom they felt more comfortable entering.

The issue is coming up more and more. Last year, the Supreme Court of Maine declared that transgender children can choose which school bathroom they are more comfortable using despite their “biological trappings” or how uncomfortable other students may feel about it. 

As federal, state, and local governments aggressively dismantling biological and familial norms and gender fluidity in schools becomes a real issue, the question might be asked, “Do the sensitivities of all students come into play or just those who are gender challenged?”

Teenage girls might be quite embarrassed to share a bathroom with teenaged boys for a variety of obvious reason and visa versa. Who is to say that a boy claiming to be transgender is not actually participating in voyeurism when he insists on using the girls locker-room or bathroom? What safety measures need to be put into place if females increasingly use male bathrooms?

The trend has also extended to filling out government forms. In 2013, the U.S. Department of Education removed the terms “mother” and “father” when referring to a student’s legal parents on federal student aid forms. Today, “Parent 1” and “Parent 2” are the terms used. It is interesting to point out that present data indicates that less than three percent of populations are identified as lesbian, homosexual and bisexual and less than one percent are transgender.

As educators, we would all agree that no one should be discriminated against or bullied for who they are. However, should all students be taught about “sexual fluidity” in public school?

In Virginia, school district documents state that gender is not determined by biology or anatomy but rather by a child’s choice. The new district curriculum for High School students will include teaching that all sexual orientations are “normal”, sexuality is a constantly changing state, a person’s identity involves not only biology but also perception, and more.

When one realizes the speed at which the world is changing and the responsibilities of schools to keep up with modern norms, these issues become increasingly challenging.

The days of tomboys Jo March in “Little Women” and Scout Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird” seem to be long over. What was once considered charming has now turned into student rights issues.

If parents “opt out” for their children to participate in sexuality lessons or the use of mixed gender bathrooms, what can schools do? Or, on the other hand, if parents or students demand gender neutrality, what choices do you have? How will your school handle these changes? We’d like to hear from you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *