Saturday, 15 November 2014

Blog Week 3: Gender, Gender Identity, and Sexual Orientation

Gender, gender identity and sexual orientation are very complex topics and diverse experiences related to them are crucial to a child’s healthy development. “Gender is the first core identity that gets young children’s attention. It develops very early: By age 2, children begin to describe themselves as boys or girls, although they are not yet sure what that means” (Derman-Sparks & Olsen Edwards, 2010, p.90).

Children are growing up in a world full of contradicting ideas. They are taught that all people are created equal and therefore should be treated as equals and yet they live in a world in which this is definitely not the case. It is important that diversity is discussed and explained in the classroom therefore I want to ensure that I am prepared to do so in a way that it is honest, just and ethical. I want to provide an environment that is safe and understanding and teaches diversity in a way that is rich and meaningful to my young students. As a teacher I hear often, “You can’t play at this center, this game is for boys” or “I don’t want a pink sticker they’re for girls”. I want to ensure that I am taking the time to address and talk about these assumptions openly with my students in a way that feels safe and secure. I really appreciated the way in which the media segment portrayed the teachers asking the children questions about their thoughts. “Why do you think girls cannot be doctor’s?” or “Has anyone ever seen a female doctor?” I also loved the way that the children were always part of the learning process. They were not just told, “Girls can be doctors too”- the learning came from them collaboratively. They even went out into the community so that the children could see for themselves that gender roles are not only linked to what they perceive. One boy even caught himself using a stereotype which showed his ability to reflect and realize that his thinking was incorrect (Laureate Education, n.d.).

The classroom activity outlined in this week’s gender media segment showcased the stereotypical thinking children exhibit about gender at a very early age (Laureate Education, n.d.). I also really liked the reflection piece that the media representation brought into perspective as well. “Are we more likely to view boys work as important?” It is important to instill diverse learning experiences for the children in our care and to provide anti-bias education to all students. This therefore means that as educators, it is our responsibility to reflect on our actions and unconscious biases so that they are not impeding our judgement and the development of the children in our care.
Much like Tina’s experience in using racial slurs unintentionally and without recognition, so many people today use the term “that’s so gay” without even realizing the meaning and connotation strung behind it. It has become so common place that people say it negatively without remorse or thought. We need to teach children that words can hurt and even they hurt unintentionally they still have a huge impact and often consequence. It is important for all children to see their culture in their classroom. “…when children’s life experiences are invisible, and they hear and see negative, stereotypical, or untrue representations of their lives, shame, confusion, and low self-esteem will likely result (Derman-Sparks & Olsen Edwards, 2010, p.123).


Derman-Sparks, L., & Olsen Edwards, J. (2010). Anti-bias education for young children and ourselves. Washington, DC: NAEYC.

Learning from Another's Life Story. (n.d.).  Tina. Retrieved from:

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Start seeing diversity: Gender [Video file]. Retrieved from

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Start seeing diversity: Sexual orientation [Video file]. Retrieved from