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Tomboys and Other Gender Heroes

Confessions from the Classroom


Karleen Pendleton Jiménez

Have you ever been told that you’re too girlish or too boyish? We are all potential targets of the gender police, some more so than others. And how did you respond? Did you hide or change or rebel or hurt or gleefully celebrate your style? Tomboys and Other Gender Heroes is a study that brings together gender stories from approximately 600 children and youth. Set in both urban and rural contexts, these young people show how their schools and communities respond to their bodies, passions, and imaginations. As one 13-year-old student expresses, «My flowered jeans make me feel happy because they represent the sort of feminine side to me and at the same time show my masculine side. They also make me feel like I’m a part of a large force that stands up to bullying and criticism, to express themselves and to show the world that our lives have meaning.» In this book, student writings are framed by teaching strategies and gender theory, featuring themes of sports, film, media, landscape, joyfulness, and gender creativity. The research will be of great interest to university students in the fields of education, gender, sexuality and women’s studies, sociology, social work, psychology, counseling, and child development. This book is ideal for teachers, professors, parents, and community members who hope to create accepting environments for gender diversity.


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Lesson Plans


I offer these lesson plans for use in your classrooms, broadly defined. They can help to guide lessons in both schools and communities. I have chosen to link them to the curriculum documents of the Ministry of Education in Ontario, but if you are an educator in another region, I am hopeful that you might find similar connections within your own context. The lesson plans in this section are the lessons I used during the gender workshops I conducted throughout my research, as well as an example of how the data in this study can be used to create a lesson plan. I have chosen particular grade levels, but they can be adjusted to meet the needs of other grades as well (I frequently adjusted the lessons to meet the level of learners at different ages). Throughout the lesson plans, I reference multiple subject areas, and especially the The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1–8: Health and Physical Education (Ministry of Education, 2015). This is a strategic choice because as I write these words, the radio and newspapers are featuring teachers and parents struggling with the challenges of a new health and physical education curriculum, both ideologically and practically. If we are to achieve greater acceptance of gender diversity, we need a progressive curriculum, educators who are willing to follow it, and the resources to support them. 130 tomboys and other gender heroes Contents 1. Addressing Gender through Drama (grade 4) 2. The Gender Rubric (grade 6) 3. Writing and/or Drawing...

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