School, the second home to a child. A place where children spend the most important years of their lives, the span when their mind, body, thoughts, and values are shaped. In short, those years are majorly responsible for the way people lead their lives. I remember singing ‘good morning teacher’ when my professor entered my college classroom for the very first time. My professor was surely not expecting an undergraduate student to greet them that way, but that was not my conscious decision. It was something my subconscious made me do. For more than twelve years in school, I and my classmates used to greet our teacher that way, singing like kids, it was so deeply embedded and registered in my brain, that it was difficult for me to de-register it.
And today when I look back, I notice that how my behavior back then and even today has so much to do with my learnings at school. I wish my mentors, my teachers would have taught me few more things beyond academics. But as they say, it’s never too late to be better and learn. These days everything has shifted online and many teachers have to practice online teaching through mobile, it may be difficult for the teachers to adopt the new methods, but they should make sure to focus on life lessons other than academics as well.
Gender, sexuality, homosexuality, biological identification, etc are wide terms, constructs and have various myths, taboos, misconceptions, and theories attached to them. Hence, it may be difficult for school children to have an understanding about them, the teachers might also find it puzzling to find the right method to educate children about everything. But the least and the best teachers can do while they teach online or offline is ‘teach children to respect everyone irrespective of their gender, caste, race, sex, appearance, etc. There are a few little steps that the schools can take in order to educate the students on this humanmade ‘social issue’- ‘gender’.
- They/them rule of thumb- Teachers are often observed making their children write he/she in random letters, articles, applications, etc when the gender of the person is not known. A better way to contribute to educating the students is to make them aware of the pronouns like they/them when the gender of a person is not known. And you get to know the gender of a person only when they introduce themselves to you. Do not assume the gender of a person yourself, unless they tell you. The common pronouns like he/she can be replaced by they/them in situations where the gender of a person is not clear. That’s not only respectful but also the correct way to attend to people you may know or not know.
For example- If you meet someone(and they did not mention their gender yet, but just their name)at a concert and you then introduce them to a friend of yours.
Correct Way to introduce them- They are Sakshi, they met me at the concert and we decided to have ice cream together.
Wrong-Way to introduce- She/he is Sakshi, she/he met me at the concert and we decided to have ice cream together.
Do not assume the gender of someone based on their names, etc. This should be incorporated in the students since their childhood.
- Appearance speaks nothing- A person may choose to wear a beautiful floral dress and a lot of makeup, and still remain a man. Whereas a woman may choose to wear pants and a shirt, have short hair, and still be a woman. The question here is, why are certain types of clothes, colors, activities attached to a certain gender?
Why are boys always associated with blue and girls with pink? Why is correct for girls to put a bindi but wrong for a boy? Do clothes, makeup, colors have a gender? The teachers should teach the students to not judge someone on the basis of what they choose to fear. We all learn from our schools the association of skirts with girls and pants with boys, no matter how uncomfortable it may be for both of them. The teachers should educate their students by telling them that clothes, colors, makeup, etc have no gender and they are for all. Man can choose to wear pink and still be
Although, this a very very wide issue to discuss upon, but these few steps if followed by the schools and the teachers can bring a visible change in the mindset of the students and in the way the world treats the ‘gender’ of someone.