Post submitted by Kimmie Fink, Welcoming Schools Consultant
Every March, our nation recognizes the remarkable accomplishments of women as a part of Women’s History Month. For teachers, this is an excellent opportunity to highlight the contributions of American women, those “hidden figures” who might otherwise be overlooked by the traditional curriculum. Welcoming Schools has resources for educators who want to both celebrate women’s achievements and address gender stereotypes.
Reading aloud diverse books is an excellent strategy for promoting respect and inclusion. “Challenging Gender Limits with Picture Books” is a Welcoming Schools booklist of recommended literature that primarily features children who defy gender norms (much like many female heroes of U.S. history). Of particular relevance for Women’s History Month is Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries who Shaped Our History… and Our Future! by Kate Schatz. Spanning several centuries and multiple professions, the book represents artists and abolitionists, scientists and suffragettes, rock stars and rabble-rousers, and agents of change of all kinds. Teachers can use books like this to discuss gender stereotyping.
For first – third grade students, teachers can access the lesson plan, “Using Children’s Literature to Look at Gender Stereotyping”. By examining the ways in which the characters’ behavior is surprising to others, young children learn that boys and girls like and can do many things.
In fourth – fifth grade, the lesson plan “Discussing Gender Stereotyping with Children’s Books” allows older students to delve into gender stereotypes and discrimination, and learn the ways in which society has restricted opportunities to women due to gender.
Children frequently receive messages, both formal and informal, about gender. At school, educators can ensure that those messages empower rather than limit them. One simple way is to spotlight individuals who have seen the full range of human endeavor as possible, regardless of their gender.
HRC’s Welcoming Schools is the nation’s premier program dedicated to creating respectful and supportive elementary schools in embracing family diversity, creating LGBTQ-inclusive schools, preventing bias-based bullying, creating gender-expansive schools, and supporting transgender and non-binary students.
Now more than ever, LGBTQ youth need to know they have support. You can become a better advocate by attending HRC’s Time to THRIVE conference, the nation’s premier convening for K-12 educators, professional counselors and other youth-serving professionals on LGBTQ youth safety, inclusion and well-being. The 2017 conference will be held April 28-30 in Washington, D.C., in partnership with the National Education Association and the American Counseling Association.