California Teachers Association

March 2017

Issue link: http://educator.cta.org/i/795366

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" When someone with the authority of a teacher, say, describes the world and you are not in it, there is a moment of psychic disequilibrium, as if you looked into a mirror and saw nothing." — Adrienne Rich Educators have a powerful role in helping students see themselves ref lected in the world. For transgender and gender nonconforming students, who recently experienced their basic right to use the restroom consistent with their gender identity rescinded by the Trump administration, educators may be the only people who validate their iden- tities, and classrooms may be the only place where these students can feel safe and be themselves. In California, Governor Brown signed legislation in 2013 to ensure transgender students will have access to restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity, so we must ensure our students and communities know this has not changed in our state. Still, access to bathrooms and public spaces is only part of the journey to create safe and gender-inclusive spaces for our students. Students who do not conform to gender expectations and stereotypes are more likely to experience harassment in our schools. is kind of bullying is more common in unsafe school climates, and it is our role as educators to make our classrooms, lunchrooms, buses, offices and schools safe for all students. If we do not do this, quality learning cannot happen. How can we do it? Many of you already are. Creating a school environment that acknowledges and affirms gender diversity takes work, but thoughtful educators and institutions can build gender-inclusive conditions. Gender-inclusive schools recog- nize that harmful gender stereotypes impact all students, and work to normalize gender diversity. Educators who are gen- der-inclusive make an effort to question limited portrayals of gender, support their students' self-reflection and identity, and teach empathy and respect. They use gender-neutral language and encourage critical thinking. We wanted to help educators build gender -inclusive and safe classrooms for all our students, so we created "Advocating for All Students," a social justice toolkit complete with post- ers, social media tools and other resources. Having signage and imager y that celebrates gender diversity is a great way to create visibility and send a message to students about the environment they are in. When you let your students know that your classroom is a " hate free zone" or that all DREAMers are welcome, you join educators across the state in making sure all students feel safe and are ready to learn. Eric C. Heins C T A P R E S I D E N T @ericheins president's message Educators Can Create Gender- Inclusive Schools Take action: Go to cta.org/ForAllStudents and sign the pledge to protect and support all students, take a stand against bullying and dis- crimination, and make schools a safe haven for all. Already signed the pledge? Let us know why you decided to take the pledge and share with us on social media, #WhyIPledgeForEd. How are you or your school creating safer spaces for all stu- dents? Tweet @WeAreCTA and let us know. 5 March 2017 Eric Heins at CTA's press conference in January. Story on page 42.

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