Children often express non-conforming or “atypical” gender behavior by kindergarten or earlier. While gender variance is common in individuals of all ages, gender non-conforming behavior in pre-adolescents is particularly visible. This may include boys who prefer to play with dolls or wear dresses at school, or girls who adopt boy’s names, as well as children who more consistently assert a transgender identity.
Some gender variant children may be open and comfortable in expressing this variance. However, most of them are already aware that their behavior and expression do not fit expected gender norms. They may most likely experience negative repercussions at school and/or at home.
- A child may become shy and withdrawn in an effort to protect themselves from bullying.
- Others may have increased disciplinary or behavioral problems.
- Some transgender children may have support at home, while others are severely punished for their natural self-expression.
- Additionally, the lack of support and understanding from teachers, parents, and other adults exacerbates the already difficult environment created by their peers.
- Even well intentioned parents may insist on damaging gender-conforming behavior in the belief that this will better protect their child at school.
Thank you so much for talking to my son’s school several weeks ago. The principal was very pleased with the teachers’ responses. She said they felt much better informed and prepared to guide the kids and parents on the topic of gender. Thank you!
Increasingly, elementary schools are taking a proactive approach to foster an environment inclusive of all children. Learning how to supportively address gender identity and expression within the elementary school classroom is crucial to help gender nonconforming children thrive. Gender Diversity provides direct grade- and age-appropriate training to address elementary school children’s questions about gender expression. This classroom instruction, coupled with school staff training and parental education, create the most optimal learning environment.
Topics addressed include:
- Teasing and bullying
- Pronoun and name changes
- Lesson planning
- Behavioral Issues
- Navigating parental issues/concerns
- Age appropriate discussions
- Specific language and terminology to address questions from students and parents