Are you a boy or a girl? It seems like a simple enough question for most people. But what if your gender identity is not so obvious? What if you are transgendered or intersex or a girl with short hair and small breasts who wears gender-neutral clothing? And what if you’re an elementary school teacher and it’s your students who are asking the question?
Amy Ryken is an educator who has often come face-to-face with this issue. “I’ve noticed that pre-service teachers are interested in exploring issues of sameness and difference with their students, whether it be gender expression, sexual orientation, race or religion. There are many missed opportunities in public school classrooms to engage young students thinking about identity as it naturally arises in conversation,” Ryken says.
Her elementary school students were asking her about her gender, so about a year ago she started recording their conversations, and she turned it into a book titled Are You a Boy or a Girl?: Conversations about Gender in Elementary Classrooms.