Meet the Human Rights Campaign’s gender-inclusive classroom guide

Meet the Human Rights Campaign’s gender-inclusive classroom guide

It’s the first day of school. The teacher, sporting an ear-to-ear smile, looks out at the fresh young faces of her kindergarten class. “Now, boys and girls,” she says warmly before realizing the grievous error she has made. “I mean ‘friends,’ she blurts, quickly correcting herself.

Yes, you read right. According to rule 1 of a helpful blog post titled “Four Ways To Make a Classroom Gender-Inclusive,” courtesy of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), teachers this year are advised to avoid using gender labels — like boys and girls — which only divide students:

[I]nstead … try something new. Words like “friends,” “students” or “scholars” allow all students to feel included, expand student vocabulary and model inclusive language and behavior for other students and teachers.

Yeah, the label scholars will make most kids feel all warm and cuddly.

Rule 2 is to “prepare for teachable moments,” which is another way of telling the teacher to be ready to pounce on kids who say things like “He looks gay!” and “She dresses like a boy.” The guide points to an external resource titled Teachable Moments, which basically repeats rule 2 but with more examples. If you click individuals examples, you are taken to yet a third web page, which offers specific responses. Here are some things the teacher can say in response to “That’s so gay.”

  • “Remember, we don’t use put-downs in this class.”
  • “It’s not OK to say ‘That’s so gay.’”
  • “It is not appropriate at this school to use ‘gay’ disrespectfully or mean something is bad.”
  • “What did you mean by that?”
  • “Do you know what ‘gay’ means?”
  • “You may not have meant to be hurtful, but when you use the word ‘gay’ to mean something is bad or stupid, it is hurtful.”
  • “Do you know why it is hurtful?”

The teacher then follows up with steps to educate her young charges, to be proactive in her dealings with them, and so on … and so on, ad infinitum.

Assuming the teacher who uses these materials is conscientious about preparing lesson plans and attending to the other duties for which she was hired, what reason could anyone have for opposing these guidelines? Well, there’s this: A Gallup tracking survey for the first four months of 2015 found that 3.8% of the U.S. adult population claimed to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. What that means is that a teacher’s chance of having an L,G, B, or T student in her class is remote. Even in a class of 30 students, which is large by today’s standards, only one student is apt to self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.

The probability that a contingency plan for dealing with hurt feelings over these issues is so minuscule that it seems the time expended on it by teachers — who already complain about being overworked and underpaid — could be put to better use.

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Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy has written for The Blaze, HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.


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