A school district in Nebraska has given to its middle-school teachers a document which advises them to use "gender inclusive" expressions such as "purple penguins" instead of "gendered" ones such as "boys and girls."
"Avoid asking kids to line up as boys or girls or separating them by gender," says a training document developed by Gender Spectrum that has been given to teachers at the Lincoln Public Schools, according to National Review.
"Instead, use things like 'odd and even birth date,' or 'Which would you choose: skateboards or bikes/milk or juice/dogs or cats/summer or winter/talking or listening.' Invite students to come up with choices themselves. Consider using tools like the 'appointment schedule' to form pairs or groups. Always ask yourself, 'Will this configuration create a gendered space?'"
The documents also instructs teachers not to use phrases such as "boys & girls," "you guys," "ladies and gentlemen."
"Instead say things like 'calling all readers,' or 'hey campers' or 'could all of the athletes come here.' Create classroom names and then ask all of the 'purple penguins' to meet at the rug."
It further states: "Help students recognize 'all or nothing' language by helping them understand the difference between patterns and rules. Teach them phrases like 'That may be true for some people, but not all people,' or 'frequently, but not always,' or 'more common and less common.' Avoid using 'normal' to define any behaviors." The teachers were also given a hand-out created by the Center for Gender Sanity as well as an infographic called "The Genderbred Person," which was produced by www.ItsPronouncedMetroSexual.com.
"It's Pronounced Metrosexual" is "both a live comedy show and an online resource focusing on snap judgments, identity, and oppression — but in a totally funny way," according to the website. "The show is performed at colleges, and the site is here for you to use as you learn and teach about gender, sexuality, identity, and social justice."
The hand-out explains that "Gender identity ... can't be observed or measured, only reported by the individual."
After objections were raised, Lincoln Public Schools Superintendent Steve Joel explained that the materials were obtained by members of a committee at Irving Middle School which was asked to examine equity issues that might affect students, according to World-Herald.
Committee members shared the materials with staff for discussion and consideration and have not been adopted as district policy, Joel was quoted as saying.
Joel also said that district officials are committed to making every student feel comfortable. "We have 39,000 students. We want every single one of them to be successful. We don't want any child ever to feel as if they don't belong in our schools."
Asked if he knows how many students identify themselves as other than a boy or girl, Joel said, "That's not data that we would commonly collect. We don't ask."