Posts tagged: education

No Gender Left Behind

By , April 13, 2011 10:00 pm

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, members of the press.

America is in a state of crisis. Its citizens unsafe. Its children rejected, all too often to the point of violence or death. Across our great country, people who don’t quite fit into our understanding of what it means to be a ‘man’ or a ‘woman’ are in danger. They live in our communities, attend our schools, are our mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters. And they are at risk.

As they well should be.

It is with great pride that pleasure that I am able to join you here today to announce the passage of House Resolution 217, better known as No Gender Left Behind, a comprehensive plan for gender reform.

The President has asked members of congress to engage in active, bipartisan debate on how we can use the Federal Government in its role as Gender Police to bring minority or non-conforming gender roles and expressions in line with their more advantaged peers.

The result, the No Gender Left Behind Act of 2011, embodies key principals of the President’s gender reform plan: stronger accountability for non-conforming individuals, expanded education on proper gender roles, expanded support for parents to enforce proper gender roles, and an emphasis on gender conforming education which has been proven to work. Continue reading 'No Gender Left Behind'»

Gender Education

By , April 6, 2011 2:33 pm

With great inspiration from Tranarchy.

Good afternoon, class!

Pardon me, but I wished you a good afternoon. It is considered polite to return the greeting. Lets try that again, with you returning th greeting: Good afternoon, class!

Very good. As you may have heard, all students are now required to undergo comprehensive gender education, as a compliment to the more traditional sex education curriculum. All of your parents have signed your permission slips, and this class is school board sanctioned, so lets get started.

What are the first things a doctor does upon the birth of a baby? They record the height, the weight, and…

Yes! The sex of the baby! “It’s a boy,” or “It’s a girl!” But what happens if it’s not so obvious? If the doctor looks between the legs of a baby and says, “It’s a…..hmm…” This condition is called ‘intersex.’ One out of every two thousand children is born with ‘ambiguous genitalia.’ (As if a body could be ambiguous! Language, maybe, but never a body. Bodies are what they are! It’s as silly as saying “That table is ambiguous.”)

But a baby’s gender is decided, nonetheless, on appearance alone – decided without running chromosomal analysis, genetic testing, brain scans, or even asking the poor little things.

Return to Hebrew School

By , February 26, 2011 12:33 pm

This past Thursday, I ventured back to my childhood synagogue to lead a class of seventh graders in a discussion of gender and gender identity. The class was taught by two people around my age, including one I attended high school with (and who hired me to lead the class), and I talked with the teachers beforehand about what they’d been discussing.

The class – a pilot program in its first year – seems really awesome, and I’m jealous I didn’t have something similar when I was at Hebrew School. The teachers set out to lead a frank and open discussion around sex, sexuality, teen and adult identity, By the time I came into the classroom, they’d already covered respect, sex and sexuality, and – perhaps most importantly – how to discuss uncomfortable topics. (I loved their ‘spaghetti rule,’ which said that using any word or language to be mean – even spaghetti, as in “That shirt is so spaghetti” – is unacceptable.)

I came in somewhat skeptical of the teachers’ claims of their students’ maturity, but was pleasantly surprised.

Continue reading 'Return to Hebrew School'»

A letter to bigots

By , February 18, 2011 7:06 pm

As a – hopefully cathartic – writing exercise, this is the letter I’d like to send to the administrators at the school which fired me for being trans. I’m talking with my lawyer about whether actually sending it would be productive.

To whom it may concern,

In the Fall of 2010, I was hired by the Piven Theatre Workshop in Evanston to teach an 8-week session of after school theatre classes to the students at Neal Math and Science Academy. After having taught the first class, on Tuesday, September 28, I was asked not to return. One or more of your school administrators felt my presence would bring up “uncomfortable conversations,” specifically due to my status as a transgender woman. As a result of your actions, I lost income from the workshops, and your students lost the opportunity to learn the world-class theatre techniques of the Piven Theatre Workshop.  But beyond that, you damaged my sense of safety, and the integrity of your school community.

Bald-faced bigotry is something no one should face, but that was what happened here. You asked me not to return not because I had done a poor job teaching, not because the students hadn’t enjoyed the workshop, not because of space or budget issues, but because of who I am. You don’t know me. You’ve never met me. And yet you felt comfortable firing me for reasons that were irrelevant to my skills as an educator. I hope you never have to experience the self-doubt, the feelings of worthlessness, that you inflicted on me.

More importantly, your actions damaged the integrity of your school community. My understanding is that, within the last twelve months, a student at Neal Math and Science Academy committed suicide following teasing relating to gender identity or expression. Bullying targeted at the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community is a very real issue, as the rash of student suicides around the country this past year has shown. But by sweeping the issue under the rug, by avoiding potential “uncomfortable questions,” you ensure that no student is safe. Four out of every five students who are teased for reasons relating to sexuality or gender expression are not gay. (I need to find this citation.) By ignoring issue sof gender and sexuality, you leave your entire student population at risk.

I have no doubt your actions stemmed from a desire to protect your student population. But bringing up difficult issues – like how to deal with a transgender student or teacher – is infinitely preferable to pretending those issues don’t exist. Had you asked, I would have assured you that my status as a transgender woman would have no place in my Piven classroom, because it’s irrelevant to teaching youth acting skills. You, not I, have made this an issue.

My motivation for sending you this letter stems from two desires: First, for you to understand the harm your actions caused, both to myself and your larger school community. Second, to offer the opportunity to move forward and strengthen that same community. The Illinois Safe School Alliance offers training to create safe spaces for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, and I myself offer ‘Trans 101’ workshops to cover the basics of transgender-related issues and terminology.

Instead of using my presence as a teaching opportunity, you furthered the very problems you were no doubt trying to avoid.

I hope to hear from you, so that this matter may be resolved in an adult and professional fashion, instead of simply sticking your head in the sand and pretending such issues are not worthy of your time.


School-age transphobia at the “American Family News Network”

By , October 4, 2010 9:04 pm
The Gay Agenda

A parody of a WWII propoganda poster, targeting the "gay agenda"

When you start looking for school-age LGBT issues, they come out of the woodwork… From OneNewsNow, “A division of the American Family News Network,” comes this delightful article on a school being forced to “oblige” a trans sixth grader:

The radical homosexual agenda is making itself known in Maine, where a human-rights group has ruled a school must accommodate the sexual preferences of a sixth-grader.

The Maine Human Rights Commission recently ruled that Orono Middle School erred by assigning a separate bathroom to the boy, who wants to live as a girl. The decision comes after the child’s parents filed a complaint with the Commission, claiming their son — who no longer attends school in the district — experienced anxiety and depression during the 2008-2009 school year. The panel also made a similar ruling against the elementary school that the child had attended..

Oh no! The “radical homosexual agenda!” (I’d say I’m a card-carrying member, but they neglected to send it to me in the mail.) I’m also impressed with the story conflating sexual orientation and gender identity within the first sentence.

Continue reading 'School-age transphobia at the “American Family News Network”'»

“Gay-friendly” colleges

By , September 29, 2010 1:49 pm

Seems like LGBT issues and school is the thing to write about! An article from Boston claims Even Those ’Gay-Friendly’ Colleges Aren’t Really:

The 2010 State of Higher Education for LGBT People reports on the experiences of nearly 6,000 students, faculty, staff and administrators in all 50 states. It shows significant harassment of students and a lack of safety and inclusiveness, even among those supposedly “welcoming” institutions.

The article goes on to discuss the stats generated from these reports, including the high number of LGB and T folks experiencing harassment. LGB and T is counted separately, which I think is a good thing: it highlights how being trans places people at an even higher risk of harassment than being lesbian, gay, or bi.

I wasn’t particularly ‘out’ at college, and only began taking hormones shortly before I graduated. As such, I (fortunately!) don’t have much personal experience on being harassed while at school. Or, indeed, much at all. (Again, fortunately.) I’d like to say that Northwestern would have been a great community in which to transition, but I guess I’ll never know.

Trans kids at school

By , September 28, 2010 10:29 am

A welcoming school busThere have been a few articles recently about trans kids and school. First, the Montreal Gazette had an article which asks “How should schools handle transgender kids“? It covered a family in Florida who was letting their 8-year-old child self-identify as a boy:

“This is just who he is — his brain is just wired in such a way that he’s male. It doesn’t matter what his genitalia is,” said the child’s mom, whose name the Orlando Sentinel agreed to withhold because she wants to protect her child’s identity

Handling things a little differently is a school in Michigan which refused to let a trans boy be crowned prom king, even though the school’s teachers use male pronouns and his chosen name, Oak:

Assistant Superintendent Todd Geerlings told Wood TV, “The ballots gave two choices — vote for a boy for king and a girl for queen.

The comments on each article tell an interesting story, as well.

Continue reading 'Trans kids at school'»

Talking to high schoolers

By , March 20, 2010 12:26 am

High School MusicalI spoke to a high school health club on Friday – the one who emailed me the questions I’ve been answering the last few days – and had a really good time. They weren’t too knowledgeable about queer/trans issues, but I much prefer well-intentioned and open-handed ignorance to feigned understanding… And they were all willing to learn, which counts for a lot in my book.

Most of the chat was pretty expected, with me going over my (abridged) life story and transition, talking about how hormones have changed my experience of emotions and sex, and so on. I did have one student ask, “So, if you did get…the surgery, and you like women…how would you have sex after?”

One of the other students waved her fingers in front of his face, which made me laugh. I also directed them to Early to Bed, which is actually only a few blocks away from their school. I hope, for the sake of his current and future partner(s), that he learns about the options available beyond penis/vagina.

Continue reading 'Talking to high schoolers'»

I’m an edjumacator

By , October 22, 2009 5:43 pm

I just got back from speaking to a class at Loyola in Chicago, and wanted to share some thoughts. (Hello to any of the members of the class who are now stopping by my blog! Y’all were awesome.) (Also, in the interest of full disclosure, saying I “just got back” is a slight exaggeration. I did just get back, but between speaking at the class and getting home I also stopped at H&M and DSW and, between them, spent $110. Consider yourself disclosed.)

The class was on social work in LGBT communities, and was made up of masters students looking to become therapists/social workers/etc. I’ll admit my ignorance here, in that I don’t know the technical difference between all those categories. The class has been talking all semester about what treating the LGBT population means, and the professor said he tries to bring in representatives from those communities – both individuals and therapists working within LGBT communities – to talk about their experiences. I was there because I’d been put in contact with the professor by my therapist, who has worked with him before.

Continue reading 'I’m an edjumacator'»

I was just on NPR!

By , October 1, 2008 10:07 am

Chicago Public Radio has a program called Eight Forty-Eight and this morning’s show had a segment about a proposed GLBT-friendly high school in the Chicago Public School system and they asked for people to call in, so I did, and got on the air.

As I said (and I think you can listen to online, or will be able to eventually) I’m very torn about the concept of a GLBT high school campus, and have had discussions concerning the idea since the Harvey Milk high school opened in New York city.

The realist in me acknowledges that, had I attended such a high school, I might have felt more inclined to come out and transition earlier, which could have put me in a much better place now. (Not that I think I’m in a horrible place now.)

However, the idealist in me feels that segregating (even self-segregating) a community that is under attack only allows biggots and assholes (wasn’t allowed to say that one on NPR) to set the discussion about GLBT students.

I guess, in a perfect world, I would want this to be part of a two-pronged approach, where the GLBT high school opens within a larger push in public schools for GLBT acceptance. A number of guests on NPR seemed to share a similar sentiment, but we’ll see if anything like that actually ends up happening.


PS – The caller imediately prior to me was a year below me in highschool. Small world… I’ve Facebook messaged her to say ‘hi’ now, as seems the socially appropriate thing to do after following her on a call-in talk-radio show. Although I feel sort of bad that the two youth voices (or younger voices, anyway) both went to the same pretty GLBT-friendly high school. Oh well.

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