Uploaded by Galleryy Martinez Reyna

Gender Diversity in K-12

“Gender Diversity in K-12”
Galleryy Martinez Reyna
The University of Houston – Downtown
Professor Hile
SOSE 3306
“Gender Diversity in K-12”
Diversity and inclusion in K-12 is an important concept all future teachers must grasp and
attempt to foster in their classrooms. Although, many future teachers assume diversity relates to
race and sex, the reality is diversity is presented in different ways. For as long as I can
remember, no one in my education has asked me what my preferred pronouns are. In fact, until
last year, 2017, in my Queer Studies course, my professor asked the class to introduce
themselves and their preferred pronouns. I was not only shocked but pleasantly surprised that for
once in my education, a teacher cared enough or rather understood the importance of preferred
pronouns. However, many students in K-12 struggle to find preferred pronoun acceptance,
respect, and appreciation from their teachers and fellow classmates. Therefore, it is crucial, as a
future educator to foster an environment where my students can understand the importance of
pronouns and respect others whose perceived gender identity is not what society expects from
According to Storozhuk and Goian (2017), research interested in gender and sex tend to
“treat them as identical or substantially related, casing the formation of worldview discord which
is usually biased in relation to gender issues” (209). Furthermore, people’s understanding of
gender and sex is synonymous; as a result, affecting the way gender is understood. As a future
educator, teachers must understand that sex is biological and gender is an expression and
identity. A student can be born biologically male (XY), however they can identify as a woman
(trans-woman), gender non-binary1, or as gender fluid2. This information can be difficult to
“Non-binary: A gender identity and experience that embraces a full universe of expressions and
ways of being that resonate for an individual. It may be an active resistance to binary gender
expectations and/or an intentional creation of new unbounded ideas of self within the world. For
some people who identify as non-binary there may be overlap with other concepts and identities
like gender expansive and gender non-conforming” ("LGBTIQA Resource Center Glossary," 2017)
accept for conservative thinkers, and that is okay. However, it is important to make students feel
accepted despite a teacher’s ability to not accept a concept. Although, people have been
conditioned to associate sex with gender, the reality is it much more complex than that and the
current generation is embracing their self-identity according to them and not what society might
expect of them.
Thus, in order to foster an inclusive environment where gender non-conforming and
gender minorities are a part of schools, teachers can ask students for their preferred pronouns.
More often than not, people assume the preferred pronouns of students are he/him, she/her.
However, gender-nonconforming students such as, non-binary, trans people, or gender fluid
people may prefer a combination of he/him, she/her pronouns, or perhaps none or all, otherwise
described as “they/them.” Universities across the nation and world are embracing and teaching
their teachers to ask and honor preferred pronouns of their students, such as the University of
Wisconsin -- Milwaukee, which created a website dedicated to educating others on pronouns and
LGBTQ questions (“Gender Pronouns,” 2018). The University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee’s
website is a great resource for educators who want to learn more about how to use specific
gender pronouns with their students. Not only, is the university’s website a great resource, but so
are other universities websites across the nation.
I must address that the term "queer" is now used to appropriate and take ownership of a
slur that was used against sexual and gender minorities. More importantly, I am queer and I use
queer as an umbrella term of gender and sexual non-conforming minorities in the LGBTIQ+
community (U. of California – Davis, 2018). Thus, as a future educator I would like to use my
own personal narrative and acceptance to foster inclusivity and diversity in an education system
“Gender Fluid: A person whose gender identification and presentation shifts, whether within or
outside of societal, gender-based expectations. Being fluid in motion between two or more genders”
(("LGBTIQA Resource Center Glossary," 2017).
that often fosters traditional gender identities. I want to create a safe space for my students who
are trans, gender non-binary, gender fluid, or perhaps even questioning their gender identity. As
schools struggle to embrace gender minority and gender on-conforming students, it is crucial to
fights against any isolation from school officials (Harvey, 2009). My personal narrative, or rather
my personal understanding as a queer person can help foster an environment where gender nonconforming students who are often isolated and ostracized can find refuge and acceptance. My
hope is that by giving the students the power to take ownership of their pronouns, then they can
also question the privileges they own and the privileges that are taken away from their nonconforming peers. As a result, students can embrace their differences and learn to work with
diverse students.
Gender Pronouns. (2018). Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Resource Center, The U. of
Wisconsin – Milwaukee. Retrieved 22 April 2018.
Kantor, H. (2007). Terms of inclusion: unity and diversity in public education. Educational
Theory. New York, Vol.57, Iss. 3.
LGBTIQA Resource Center Glossary. (2017). University of California - Davis. Retrieved
19 April, 2018. https://lgbtqia.ucdavis.edu/educated/glossary.html.
Storozuk, S., Goian, I. (2017). Gender existence: correlation between equality and identity.
Philosophy and Cosmology. Vol. 18. Accessed 22 April, 2018.