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Pronouns, Flags, and Feeling Safe

“Binary notions of gender, biology and sexual orientation exclude large swaths of human diversity. This diversity can be better understood by using spectrum-based models. Spectra make room for anyone whose experiences do not narrowly fit into binary choices such as man/woman, feminine/masculine or straight/gay.”
Joel Baum & Kim Westheimer


Case Study at a Glance

"Pronouns, Flags, and Feeling Safe" is a project-based unit that aims to explore the struggles and successes of the LBGQ+ community and the ways by which an individual can be an ally for all people, regardless of sexual and gender identity. Students explore literature that tells stories of young people who identify with binary definitions and those who don’t fit into binary categories.

Author
Valerie Evans
School
Boynton Middle School
Grades
Sixth - Eighth

Guiding Questions
  • Do I have to be a boy or a girl?
  • What’s the difference between sex, gender, and gender identity?
  • Why should we care about people who aren’t like us?
  • Is freedom a constant struggle?

ICSD Anti-Marginalization Focus Questions
  • How do we understand change movements and stories of resistance?
  • How is equality achieved?
  • What am I reading about marginalized groups?
  • What can I do to build acceptance?

Student Product

Students design a school-wide project that uses what they have learned to help their school become a more inclusive community. For example, students might decide to ask all teachers to list pronouns on their correspondence in order to normalize the practice. Students will act as agents of change to improve the inclusivity of their school. 


Major Resources
  • GLSEN.org
     Championing LGBT issues in K-12 education since 1990
  • Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart
    A dual narrative about two remarkable young people: Lily, a transgender girl, and Dunkin, a boy dealing with bipolar disorder.
  • The Boy & The Bindi by Vivek Shraya
    Author Donna Gephart crafts a beautiful children’s picture book that showcases a young Indian boy’s fascination with his mother’s bindi, the red dot commonly worn by Hindu women. Rather than chastise her son, she teaches him about its cultural significance and doesn’t flinch when he asks for one himself. Wearing it allows him to joyfully explore and express his difference.
  • "Why I must come out" - TED Talk by Geena Rocero
    When fashion model Geena Rocero first saw a photo of herself in a bikini, "I thought ... you have arrived!" As she reveals, that's because she was born with the gender assignment "boy." In this moving talk, Rocero tells the story of becoming who she always knew she was.
  • "A powerful poem about what it feels like to be transgender" - TED Talk by Lee Mokobe
    "I was the mystery of an anatomy, a question asked but not answered," says poet Lee Mokobe, a TED Fellow, in this gripping and poetic exploration of identity and transition. It's a thoughtful reflection on bodies, and the meanings poured into them.