March 06, 2023: Move beyond the gender binary by creating inclusive spaces with the help of fabulous digital resources!

On every continent, a variety of cultures have recognized, revered, and integrated more than two genders for all of recorded history. Prior to the colonization of Indigenous land and the introduction of western European social constructs, gender diversity was widely accepted and celebrated in many cultures around the world. The construction of a gender binary has shaped modern societies, and the idea of gender fluidity and expression has unfortunately been suppressed, yet there are some cultures that still honour these ancestral ways of being today. This week in the mentoring circle, we engage with the full complexity of gender with fabulous digital resources. In the following video, for example, learn more about how gender diversity is understood in many places around the world.

SOGI inclusive education nurtures a welcoming culture and learning environment to enhance language, curriculum, and pedagogical practices regarding sexual orientation and gender identity. At a SOGI-inclusive school, students’ gender does not limit their interests and opportunities, and their sexual orientation and how they understand and express their gender are welcomed without discrimination. SOGI UBC seeks to transform educational environments to support self-determination surrounding gender and sexuality in schools. They offer a variety of resources to support you in creating safer and more welcoming schools. Check out their digital resources for specific websites, guides and tools related to SOGI inclusiveness. Learn more about the work SOGI UBC is doing in the video below.

SOGI 1 2 3 is a website for educators in British Columbia seeking to create SOGI-inclusive schools. Their digital resources support educators to make institutions inclusive and safe for students of all sexual orientations and gender identities. SOGI 1 2 3 Inclusive Environments has digital tools of all sizes for learning individually and collectively. Through inclusive videos and presentations, educators can move their conversations from the “why” to the “how” of SOGI-inclusive education. The SOGI 1 2 3 Pro-D resource page is a useful digital resource to create gender-queer spaces that promote a SOGI-inclusive environment where every student feels like they belong. SOGI 1 2 3 also provides ready-to-use, grade-appropriate SOGI-inclusive lesson plans that align with that curriculum. 

We still live in a world of gender-dependent standards and gender expectations. Many institutions and educational programs continue to have gender policies like a short hair policy for males. For many people, hair is a reflection of their identity and does not determine their gender. In many Indigenous cultures, hair has spiritual importance and cutting hair has been used as a weapon against Indigenous peoples. The Braves Wear Braids (BWB) documentary looks at the spiritual meaning of braids, and the struggles faced by Indigenous youth to keep this important piece of the culture alive through interviews with Elders, and Indigenous men who speak about their own personal experiences with their braids. The documentary is a learning and anti-bullying tool in schools, as well as, support for cultural sensitivity and inclusiveness.

The shaming of Indigenous children for their long hair can be traced back to residential schools, where they had their hair cut short immediately after they arrived. It was a method used by settlers to further its colonial and assimilationist agenda. These days, Indigenous families are speaking out against racial and homophobic slurs thrown at boys and men for having long, braided hair — boys with braids are using hair as resistance to colonization. In the following video, Professor of Ojibwe and Native American author Dr. Anton Treuer discusses the spiritual importance of hair in Native culture and how others have used cutting hair as a weapon against Native people. A resource to raise awareness of the cultural and spiritual significance of why many Indigenous boys and men wear braids.

sj Miller, a trans* (a)gender award-winning teacher, writer, activist, and scholar, is a literacy specialist whose emphasis is on social justice and gender identity in pre-K through university-level teaching. sj’s research focuses on trans* + disciplinary perspectives on social justice and marginalized student literacies and identities with an emphasis on gender identity. sj’s TEDMed Talk reminds us how exploring nonconforming gender identities can be particularly hard, but everyone needs to be treated with dignity. sj Miller explores social justice and gender identity for kids and young adults and believes that we need to start building critical literacy and compassion around the complex topic of gender in schools and beyond. We are the gender identity revolution!