By Jamie Matthews
First off, I want my kids to be aware of others who may believe, feel or do differently than them. I want them to be accepting. But I also feel that certain things are not age-appropriate. For example, you don’t have elementary school students jumping into the Grapes of Wrath or When the Caged Bird Sings. First you teach them about letters and how to read and in addition to teaching them the beauty of language, you make sure the content is something they’re ready for. When a child first asks where babies come from, they usually don’t need or want to know the full details of sex, they just want to know it comes from a woman’s stomach (and not a stork or store). As far as what a child is ready for, with content and maturity, parents know best. Parents needs to be involved in choosing a curriculum, a curriculum should be readily available (website would be nice so there’s free access) and they need to have the option to opt out of certain things.
Specifically on transgender curriculum. I read an article about Oak Park’s gender fluid curriculum that talked about how they were going to teach how to identify outward signs and label others for them as transgender or not. If the article I read was true, then I have problems with this. First, if you truly believe that gender is different than sex then it is defined on how one feels on the inside. There can be a correlation between many who feel they are transgender and outward signs or manifestations, but correlation does not equal causation. Using outward appearances to define something internally is stereotyping and not 100% factual. I know women who like short hair because longer hair gives them migraines, not because they feel like a man. I know men who like dance who are not gay and don’t feel like a woman. Outward signs do not necessarily dictate how someone feels on the inside. So, teaching that outward signs are indicative of someone’s internal feelings teaches them to stereotype (possibly inaccurately) and opens up more room for bullying.
So what is ok for elementary school students? Making them aware of things like, don’t make fun of boys who like pink, dance, skirts, etc. Don’t make fun of girls with short hair, or who like sports. Making them aware of different interests and outward signs and just saying it’s OK to like different things and kids should not be made fun of for their differences. Either way, there are things that can be implemented into elementary school curriculum that can teach awareness of differences and empathy without teaching them how to define things they are not ready to define or cannot be defined by outward signs alone and should not be defined for others. Kids have to understand that there is gray area before jumping into teaching them stereotypes that aren’t always true. Stereotypes that could lead them to bullying a kid who may fit transgender molds but don’t feel transgender and are therefore not transgender.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal
Jamie Matthews grew up in Thousand Oaks and is now starting her own family here with her husband. She loves music, reading, children and education.