Last week, the Alberta, Canada, Government released a document called Guidelines for Best Practices: Creating Learning Environments that Respect Diverse Sexual Orientations, Gender Identities and Gender Expressions.
You can download the document here in PDF format.
As I read through this document, I wished I would be going to school in this kind of open, accepting environment.
Schools and school authorities [should] proactively review existing dress codes to ensure they are respectful and inclusive of the gender identities and gender expressions of all members of the school community (e.g., rules apply equally and fairly to all students and are not gender-exclusive, such as implying that a certain type of clothing, such as skirts, will be worn by one gender only).
Or how about this:
All students, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, have the right to participate in all curricular and extra-curricular activities. These learning and recreational activities need to occur within inclusive and respectful environments, and in ways that are safe, comfortable and supportive of students’ sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions.
I wanted to spend time with the girls at school, playing their sports and doing the same classes as them. I remember a large number of girls wanting to wear pants instead of skirts. This was at primary school already.
This kind of inclusivity and openness towards a diverse identity of self is incredible.
Thinking about the implications makes me wonder why it took so long to come about. Not only that, but what might have been possible for everyone who has attended school up to now, forced to fit into a certain role according to the genitals they were born with?
This will fundamentally change society.
School is where we learned that girls and boys were different, that girls were delicate and boys were rough and played harder sports. Girls learned how to cook, clean, sew, and boys were taught … I don’t even remember. Was it how to program computers? Kick a ball?
Imagine instead a formative environment where you are encouraged to do whatever you want, gender aside.
I should also note that this has nothing to do with sexual orientation or romantic attraction. The guidelines specifically reference that fact, which in itself is remarkable.
This will allow people to embrace the idea that not all effeminate men are gay, that not all butch women are lesbian, and that perhaps a gender binary is an old-fashioned idea that should go away.
Look at this footnote regarding human sexuality:
If a human sexuality class is organized by gender, students are able to choose which class they participate in.
This is blowing my mind, and I’ve been an activist for queer rights for nearly two decades.
For all its wondrousness, these guidelines will not be implemented overnight. Each school and district will have to create and adopt its own policies, and some parents and school boards, particularly in religious-based schools, will refuse.
That is to be expected, and those schools will be left in the past, where they belong.
I cannot express how grateful I am to the province of Alberta, in the country of Canada, my new home, for making inclusion a priority at the school level. I cannot wait for these kids to grow up with tolerance and acceptance as a guiding principle.
2 Replies to “Gender Identity Diversity in Alberta Schools”
I remember feeling the same way. When I was in primary school, I loved, LOVED the baking class that the girls usually took in home economics. But my teachers went to great lengths to steer me away, since I would’ve been the only boy in the class. “Faire la cuisine, c’est pour les filles,” (Cooking is for girls) they’d say. There was a huge emphasis on traditional gender roles in the French Immersion system in Ontario.
Boys did woodwork, at least they did at my highschool out on the East Rand.
How I would have preferred that instead of having to cook, sew, knit and embroider.