by Ted Goodman
A new guide released to teachers in Canada outlines ways that teachers can make classrooms more inclusive.
In one such proposal, it is suggested that students be referred to “comrades” instead of boys and girls. A second idea encourages drag shows so that kids can study the “performance of gender.”
The Alberta Teacher’s Association (ATA), the top union for teachers in Alberta, Canada released the 152-page document called, “Prism Toolkit for Safe and Caring Discussions.” The guide is meant to assist teachers in creating an LBGTQ-inclusive environment in the classroom.
The guide is intended to create “welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environments for children and youth,” and asks teachers use gender-neutral language like “spouse” rather than husband and wife.
One activity recommended for students is titled, “Drag 101.” The activity encourages students to “examine the performance of gender, specifically the exaggerated feminine aspects of dressing and acting in drag,” and compels students to invite local drag queens to come into the classroom and to organize a drag performance at the school.
Another activity suggested is “Gender Swap,” where students select a piece of writing that is typically strongly associated with a particular gender, but one that is not the gender they identify with.
“Students are asked to perform their selected piece and complete an analysis,” the guide states; giving examples of well known literary classics and how they may change if the roles were reversed.
Additional activities in the manual include “Queer Music,” where teachers select music composed by artists who are “sexual or gender minorities.” Another activity called, “Gender Bending Fashion,” where students are “challenged to create fashion that transcends gender and fully incorporates the masculine and feminine in all their pieces,” was also present in the book.
A “gender unicorn” is used as a way of “understanding gender” in the guide. The five-question survey is meant to show that there are a range of options for gender and sexual identities. The gender unicorn is seen here on Twitter:
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“It is deeply offensive of the authors [of the guide] to unequivocally redefine what qualifies as the ‘religious and moral beliefs’ of others,” Theresa Ng, a parent activist who writes a blog called, “Informed Albertans” said. “Whether the ATA chooses to acknowledge it or not, this IS a religious issue for many teachers, parents and students in this province,” she continued.
The ATA contends that the internal guide would assist teachers in creating a safe and inclusive environment for students, pushing back against critics who say the new guidelines do not honor or value alternative perspectives on the issues.
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