Gender Now

Expanding Gender through Playful Exploration

We begin by establishing a natural/normalized framework for multiple gender expression using nature, history and multiple cultural contexts. So when we speak more specifically about gender and its expression children have a familiar terrain within which to see through cultural assumptions. The Gender Wheel then provides a holistic, nature-based tool to begin exploring a circular and dynamic understanding of gender.

At the heart of this large and supportive container are the following principles:

1. CHILD-CENTERED

  • Priority is given to full support of a child’s individuality and self-worth
  • Children are met respectfully where they are at

2. USES COMMON AND ACCESSIBLE LANGUAGE

  • Lived experience/relevant context
    • Use words children use and know (“boy” “girl”) and open up the meaning of these familiar words
  • Not technical on purpose
    • We expect and encourage everyone to find their own words and respectfully ask others what words feel right for them
    • We need more words and want to encourage ways of thinking and communicating that will help create these new words
    • While we try to use terminology that is respectful and current, we do not want to create finite definitions, but open up possibility and curiosity

3. PLAY TO LEARN

  • Enjoyment and freedom allow for greater learning opportunities

This allows children to explore organically, come to their own knowing and develop their sense of self independent of outdated ways of thinking and being. We want to support our children in a conscious and thoughtful manner, taking their full potential into consideration. I believe it is the children who will ultimately teach us out and beyond the philosophies and experiences of our current day, creating new language and ways of seeing the world that we cannot currently imagine.

→ In fact, a 2012 study by the Human Rights Campaign and Gender Spectrum indicates that adult understanding of gender is seriously out of touch with our youth. Their report showed several findings:

First, among gender-expansive youth across racial groups; urban, rural, or suburban living areas; and religious backgrounds, there are increasingly diverse understandings of gender that have been unrecognized by adults and the institutions serving these youth.

As youth consider their own identities and experiences, they are expanding the possibilities of gender that exist for themselves and their peers.

Finally, these findings also demonstrate that the current gender-specific language and terminology many young people encounter in their homes, schools and communities(e.g., religious congregations and doctor’s offices) is not inclusive of them and serves to keep them, at best, invisible and ignored and, at worst, excluded and isolated.

This results further support the idea that it is our children who will create the language and expansion around gender that we so desperately need and it is our job as adults to create the container for them to feel confident to do so. This is the main premise and guiding sentiment behind the Gender Now Curriculum.