Using Gender Inclusive Language with Students
All kids get messages about gender from the language used by the adults in their lives. By using gender inclusive language, educators send a message that all students are seen and supported in their classrooms.
Some examples of phrases you can use when you talk with your students are:
- There are lots of ways to be boys or girls or something else. Isn’t it great?
- There are lots of different types of clothes. Kids get to wear what feels comfortable to them and makes them feel good.
- Toys are toys, hair is hair, colors are colors, and clothes are clothes
- Who decided that some things are for boys and some things are for girls?
- Is there only one way to be a boy or girl? Can boys and girls like the same things? Do all boys like the same things? Do all girls like the same things?
- No one gets to tell another person how to feel on the inside. You know yourself better than anyone else does.
- Sometimes this stuff is confusing. We get messages that some things are for boys and some things are for girls. But these messages are just some people’s ideas. They may not be right for you.
- Each of us gets to decide what we like and don’t like. We just can’t be unkind to others about the things they like.
- Kids can do or be or like or want anything because they are individuals with hopes and likes and dreams. This is not because of their gender. It is because they are people.
- Gender is a lot more than our bodies. It is about how we show other people things about our gender (maybe our clothes, or our hair, or the toys we like) and how we feel on the inside.
- Who you are is not about what others tell you, but something you determine for yourself (even when you get messages that say otherwise).
- Certain types of bodies are thought of as boy and certain types as girl, but that's not true for everyone.
- Who we are (or who others think we are) on the outside is not always who we are on the inside; think of all the wonderful things about yourself that no one else knows about by just looking at you!!
- Someone’s feelings about their gender come from their hearts and their minds.
- Being a boy or a girl or something else is not about what you like, or what you wear, or your body. It is something that each of us figures out for ourselves.
- How we show our gender is about the things we like or make us comfortable or safe. There may be some patterns we notice, but these are not rules. More girls might wear dresses than boys, but does that mean all girls wear dresses? Or that boys can’t wear dresses?
- History is full of examples of gender diversity! There have been gender diverse people in every culture, every religion, all over the world and throughout time.
- You should be careful about thinking you know someone’s gender just by looking at them. And even if you do know a person’s gender, don’t assume you know the things they like to do or wear, or play with.
- Have you ever been teased? How does it feel when you are teased or treated as an outsider?
- No one likes to be pointed out by other kids. Does it feel good when you think someone is talking about you?
- How do you think you would feel if people were always asking you about your own gender?