Tag Archives: school

To the world: please accept our children unconditionally and look after them

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On freshly pressed right now is a post that is close to my heart. It is from the blog Raising My Rainbow. The woman who writes this blog, Lori, shares with her readers experiences of her family, especially around her “gender creative” son C.J.

Lori's blog tells her story and she has written a book as well.

Lori’s blog tells her story and she has written a book as well.

What has gone down recently, and what has featured on freshly pressed, is that some parents at Lori’s son’s school have spoken up both at a PTA meeting and after the meeting, with some discriminatory, homophobic and transphobic statements around the rights of children to express their gender identity.

One particular issue revolves around children’s right to use the toilets of the gender they identify with, not necessarily the gender they were assigned at birth. Apparently C.J. has not been using girls toilets, this is a rumour. But, he has been bullied in the boys toilets by other boys who demand to see whether he has a penis or a vagina. Bullied in the toilets. And these parents speak like this at the PTA meeting. Perhaps the apples don’t fall far from the trees. What a battle this family and this school have with these parents.

The situation can be read about here To The PTA Moms at My Son’s School and here The Last PTA Meeting I Will Ever Attend.

There are a lot of poorly informed, under-empathetic and under-caring people in this world. For starters, these are children we are talking about. How messed up do we want our future generation to be? Let them just be children. Without all the adult negativity and prejudice, I bet these children would all play happily together, going to whatever toilet they choose. At my school, right next to my art room there are two toilets used by boys, girls, women, men. No, stop it, please. The world is going to end because we share toilets. There’s no intention there, it’s just how it ended up in the design of a new building, we have two unisex toilets at that end of the building. Children have an amazing ability to be flexible of mind and accepting of others. We shouldn’t kill this.

As a teacher in a primary school, I see children who show different degrees of gender identity. We have not had an experience like Lori is going through at our school yet, but I would like to think my school would be very accepting and work through the issues, with the child and all the children’s welfare in mind. I know that I, as a parent of a gay son and one more informed than the average person, will be there to share information and encourage understanding. However, I know parents can be extremely single minded when discussing issues, and that is a problem.

There is a lot to be gained from informing oneself before opening one’s mouth. This article from an Australian TV program called Four Corners is a perfect way to share stories of the children who struggle with their gender identity and acceptance in the world.

Being Me by Four Corners

Being Me by Four Corners

It is through these stories that people can access information, information that they do not necessarily access otherwise in their lives. Not yet anyway. Society, in varying degrees throughout, is just beginning to learn about LGBTI acceptance and equality. There are places where LGBTI issues are open and understood greatly, but I would not think that many suburban or rural primary or secondary schools (elementary or high schools) are there yet.

At the end of the day, these are our children, they are born with promise and a bright future, let’s look after them and keep it that way.

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Teaching is a work of heart

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Teaching is a profession that cops a lot of negativity in the media on and off. Regardless of what some people say, I believe most teachers try to make a difference in the lives of the children in their care, in just about everything they do, all day, every school day of the year.  I am guessing that’s accurate of about 99% of teachers.  I don’t think many teachers stay in the profession if they have no passion for teaching or for children. It’s really hard work, it would be almost impossible to do if you didn’t have a love for it. I see and hear about teachers who move on every year to places more suited, like to the police force or to a desk job or to retirement.

A lot of teachers and school staff go nameless and faceless even though we spend a huge amount of time with the children in our classes and at our school every week.  After the children have survived their first year of school successfully, their parents start slowly dwindling off and we rarely see many of them by the time these children reach the middle and upper primary grades. (Unless of course, in their child’s eye some injustice has been done and the parent comes to the school and threatens and points fingers at teachers and tells them to go to Weight Watchers- but that is another story). Lucky for us, the amount of parents that engage in disrespectful behaviour is probably only 1%.  I’m very lucky, I work in a pretty safe and positive environment.

Most parents would not know my name, except maybe if I have had their children in a previous year where I was their child’s classroom teacher. I’m just the art teacher now.  I was primary carer for about 125 different students throughout the day today. Even though very few parents of those students would be able to call me by name, they trusted me (and many others) today with the job of keeping their children safe, happy and learning.

The thing is, a lot of us teachers work our arses off for the good of our students, but we do not like to be singled out.  We don’t mind small quiet notes or gifts at the end of the year, but parents please thank us quietly, we do not like the limelight.  We are a team and often you will see a teacher brush off attention, saying something like “It’s just my job” or “It was a team effort”.  We don’t mind if parents don’t all know our names.  We don’t even mind parents don’t realise how effective our work is in developing the whole child, all the different parts that perhaps you can’t see changing ever so subtly, and parts you certainly can’t test. That’s ok. We work for the children to grow and learn and develop and gain new passions and confidences and become an older more educated person at the end of our year. I don’t know why we all teach so fantastically and then don’t really advertise the fact, it’s just who we are- we teach because we are passionate about education, not about accolades and applause.

Today all five of my art classes went fantastically.  Everyone engaged in the learning and the art was complete expression of self.  I know that most of those children gained some insights into themselves, their inner workings and their abilities.  I was inspired by the children’s contributions to discussion, their reflections, and the insightful art they created. Some children learnt a lot, some children learnt a little. But all students moved forward. And that is all I want for today.

Teach from the heart