When most people think of gender, they usually think of two broad categories: male and female. Recently, people have been recognizing that gender is not binary and that it falls on a continuum, rather than being completely one or the other.Assuming that boys and girls identify with the gender they were assigned at birth goes against the research that has proved there is a range between masculinity and femininity. When children are forced to live by a gender that does not match their identity, many become depressed and have a harder time focusing and learning in school. Children may have a harder time dealing with their gender identity in schools because of the schools’ bathroom policies, dress code, preferred pronouns, and activities that separate members of the different sex.
Schools need to provide a safe and nurturing environment for children to gain academic achievements and develop social skills. Educators need to concentrate on creating this environment starting at a young age because feelings of inconsistent biological and psychological gender identity have been beginning to form at younger and younger ages. Gender impacts a child’s experience at school across every grade and influences how the rest of their academic and social career will continue
In 2017, Washington public schools will begin to implement a gender identity curriculum in all grades beginning with kindergarten. Children as young as five years old will begin to learn about gender expression including the differences between gender and sexual identity as well as the traits that are typically associated with each gender.
In order for schools to respect children’s gender identification, they must honor and build a strong sense of community and acceptance that allows students to feel comfortable sharing what they would like to be called, their preferred pronouns, and choice of restroom. If a student does not feel comfortable using either the men’s or women’s bathroom, the school should set up a gender neutral bathroom so that all students can feel comfortable and have their desired privacy. Another important action for schools to take is to have a dress code that does not limit what each student must wear according to their biological gender.
In order for children to feel completely safe in an environment that caters to their needs, schools should follow these actions, which will allow for the better psychological and physical well being of all students.