While institutional and interpersonal practices are important to creating more gender inclusive conditions, there is nothing more powerful than seeing the diversity of gender appear in curriculum.
Integrating Gender in Your Classroom
Today’s content standards leave little room for additional topics in the curriculum. While lessons are plentiful, unless part of a social-emotional framework, advisory program or thematic day or week, teachers may be hard pressed to include gender explicitly into their instruction.
However, because it crosses so many different aspects of our lives, gender can be easily integrated into existing content teachers are already covering. In many ways, when gender simply shows up in a content area, it can be more influential than some sort of grand gesture or event. Regardless of discipline, hearing gender themes woven into a lesson or activity serves to reinforce the ways that gender is an integral part of virtually every aspect of our lives. It also further demonstrates an institution’s level of intentionality when it comes to gender.
Share Your Ideas!
Are you finding ways to integrate gender in your classroom? Have ideas you hope to try? Share your ideas about units, approaches, materials and anything you use to integrate gender themes on your social media, tag us (@GenderSpectrum on Facebook and Twitter, @gender_spectrum on Instagram) and we will share with our followers.
Gender in literature: as students read various novels, ask them to be mindful of the ways in which gender norms are influencing the characters. How do expectations about gender mirror the period in which the book is set? How do they reflect societal beliefs at the time the novel was written?
Student writing: Regardless of genre, prompts related to gender can serve as an inspiration for your student authors.
- Personal narrative writing prompts:
Consider a time in your life when someone talked about your gender and the things I could or could not do.
Describe an experience in which someone confused your gender or when you confused another person’s gender.
- Persuasive essay writing prompts:
Girls should not be allowed to play on the football team.
When gender roles were more clear, there was less conflict and confusion in society.
- Expository writing prompts:
Describe the ways in which portrayals of gender in the media have affected our society’s understandings of gender.
Describe ways that gender is marketed to kids
- Creative writing:
Imagine waking up one day and everybody's gender different.
Use gender themes to create Haikus or other forms of poetry
- Reading comprehension:
Use a short piece like “The Dimensions of Gender*” or another article describing gender and have students answer questions about content
- Responding to literature:
Various young adult reading titles* raise topics related to gender diversity, roles and stereotypes
Grammar & Spelling: Correct any of the mistakes in the following sentence. Alex and shannon, were discussing the auditions for the school play when both girls was starteled by the loud noise?
Any lesson focused on using pronouns
“The word is ‘Extract.’ Denise was trying to extract the doll from her brother’s firm grip. Extract”
When studying various indigenous and first nation communities, examine how notions of gender influence the culture. In what ways are they similar to how we see gender today? In what ways are they different? How have colonization or other forces shaped how gender was understood in those societies?
For any historical period, how have gender norms influenced the narrative? What did it look like to transgress gender during that period? What are some historical examples of individuals who did so? How were these individuals viewed by their society? What were the consequences of not adhering to prescribed gender norms?
What are some of the ways gender is understood in different cultures? How do these understanding of gender connect to other aspects of these cultures, such as religion, art, or language?
What is the relationship between gender and issues of power in a given society? How has that relationship shifted over time?
What role did gender play in various social movements such as emancipation, civil rights, women’s suffrage or others?
Exploring biodiversity among various organisms
How has our understanding of physical sex evoved over time?
What role do genetics play in determining a person’s sex and gender?
In what ways do notions of gender diversity need to be accounted for when teaching untis focused on puberty or sexual health
When doing story problems, use examples beyond the binary:
Your math club has 12 students who identify as boys, 10 who identify as girls and 2 who identify as nonbinary. What is the ratio of boys to girls? Girls to gender expansive students? If the raions remained the same, but there were 5 nonbinary students, how many students of the other gender would there be?
A survey was conducted recently. 373 students identified as male, 396 identified a female, 13 identified as transgender, and 27 identified as other. Graph these results. What percentage of the students identified as male? Female? Transgender? What percentage did not identify as either male or female?
Data and Statistics: Why is it difficult to come up with solid statistics about people who don’t identify as male or female?
How are PE programs organized? Are students divided by gender? In what situations? What is the purpose for doing so? Can those objectives be met with our dividing by gender?
Are there different expectations in place for aspects such as competitiveness, physical contact, stamina, strength, teamwork and/or sportsmanship based on students’ gender?
When teaching specific skills, does gender influence the manner in which it is being taught?
Are there ways that the program intentionally challenges students to step
Various projects where students have to portray something using the lens of gender
Allow students to play any part in various theater productions, rather than basing on gender
Discuss how certain dances have “male” and “female” parts. Why might that be challenging for some people?
In what ways do the instruments that students are playing reflect patterns related to gender? What are some ways to highlight individuals playing instruments across all genders?
Songs celebrating gender diversity
If the language is particularly gendered, distinguish between the rules of a language and a nonbinary understanding of gender.
What might it be like for someone who identifies as nonbinary to speak a language that uses masculine and feminine forms?
What do you think the basis might be for certain words being maculine or feminine? Are they gendered in the same way in other languages?
Some languages actually include additional pronouns other than “he” and “she.” Some don’t use any pronouns at all. What impact might that have on those societies’ use of language and understanding of gender?
As with English, many people are exploring ways to make language more gender inclusive. What does that work look like in the language being taught?