Edited By Elizabeth J. Meyer and Dennis Carlson
18. Tomboys, Sissies, and “That’s So Gay”: Exploring Gender and Sexuality Diversity in Early Childhood and Elementary Education
Tomboys, Sissies, and “That’s So Gay”
Exploring Gender and Sexuality Diversity in Early Childhood and Elementary Education
Elementary school boy: ‘Usually, a tomboy is a girl that is tougher than a usual girl, or acts more like a boy, but a tomgirl doesn’t really exist, because if you’re a tomgirl, then it is just considered gay’. (Pillsbury, Westheimer, & Brodsky, 2011)
Parents and teachers can also take a more direct approach, by actively challenging the gender rules in American society that promote the idea that how we enact our gender—and the degree to which we approximate someone else’s idea of the “right kind” of boy or girl—somehow determines our worth as human beings. (Roffman, 2012, p. 87)
Academic scholars, ethnographic researchers, social advocacy organizations, and legislators continue to debate the role of gender and sexuality in schools. The practical and pedagogical needs of PreK–6 educators, however, are often lost in these debates. This chapter will present a contemporary construct for understanding sex, gender, and sexuality—Gender and Sexuality Diversity (GSD)—to clarify the ways these essential aspects of human identity are manifest in schools every day. By addressing GSD within this proposed educational framework, elementary educators can challenge heteronormative bias, and promote developmentally appropriate practices and policies.
The goal of this chapter is to first, define the concept of heteronormativity, and second, offer readers examples of the ways gender...
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