UBC Graduate Research

From the Inside Out: Creating a Culture of Acceptance for Gender Variant Children Watt, Anne Treacy


Young children enter the school system with a developing sense of gender identity and firmly held gender beliefs. Students’ rigid adherence to gender stereotypes can be problematic for a variety of reasons. Gender stereotypes pose challenges to children who are gender variant and who do not prescribe to gender norms. Moreover, the perpetuation of gender stereotypes only serves to constrain children, limiting them to certain ways of expressing themselves. It is important that educators recognize the influence they hold in enabling children to expand the ways they express gender and experience gender in the classroom. Raising the awareness of gender stereotypes and teaching children additional ways of understanding gender, including the fluidity with which it can be expressed, is crucial if gender variant children are to feel valued and respected. In this paper, I review current research and literature on gender identity formation, gender stereotyping, and gender variance. I also review teaching strategies and suggestions that are important in creating an accepting and respectful classroom culture, one that encourages children to freely experiment with a diverse range of gender expression.

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