So much has changed since I was in grade school. Pluto was a planet, then it wasn’t, then it was again. Christopher Columbus had his own holiday, but now he’s most recognized for being an awful human being. Before, Ben Franklin and Thomas Edison were the only names that came to mind when talking about electricity, and now Nikola Tesla is finally getting the recognition he deserves. Same-sex marriage used to only be legal in certain states, but now it’s been federally legalized since 2015.
New and groundbreaking moments are being forever immortalized in history textbooks—and it’s exciting to know that more progressive views are being adopted by the public-school curriculum. But it’s crazy to think about how much information was withheld from me or didn’t yet exist during my upbringing.
This is why, when people ask whether or not the gender spectrum should be taught in schools, I say, HELL YES IT SHOULD.
If I’m being honest, I’d like an entire revamp of American sex education all together, but I understand that baby steps are necessary. Even so, I do think it’s vital that we ask our educators to provide the most up-to-date information out there. When you keep things out of the classroom because they’re considered “taboo” topics, like gender identity, you rob individuals of comprehensive education and knowledge that will better equip them for life.
“Oh, but gender isn’t fluid. There are only two genders, even if you identify differently. It’s just science!”
If I was ever going to use that atrocious Spongebob meme (you know what I’m talking about—the one that’s like, “oH, bUT GENdEr IsN’T FlUiD), it’d be now. I cannot stand close-minded people, and, honestly, that’s complete bullshit.
When I was in the 8th grade, the most groundbreaking piece of information I learned in my health class was that people can be intersex. That removed every preconceived notion I had about there only being two biological sexes. Science was now telling me that you can be born with XX chromosomes and still be female, or XY chromosomes and still be male. Or born with the “right” chromosomes, but with the “wrong” internal parts. Or with all the “right” parts and none of the corresponding chromosomes, which is basically nature saying a big fuck you to gender norms.
That’s my long-winded way of saying that sex and gender aren’t binary—they never have been.
Nowadays, we’re living in a world with a plethora of information right at our fingertips, and the information and language around gender has evolved. It’s important to educate youth as our understanding of gender progresses even further.
Listen: I identify as a cisgender woman and I have always identified as a cisgender woman. The education I received growing up helped me affirm that, so why shouldn’t people who fall outside the gender binary also have affirmation within the education system?
Why shouldn’t we be taught the right language to approach our non-cisgender peers in a setting that’s supposed to be a safe space in the first place?
It’s no mystery that hate is oftentimes fueled by ignorance and misinformation. If we can avoid that right from the get-go, what’s the harm in doing so? I want our world to be one that is more accepting and a little less hateful in the future. I want to know that the next generation won’t trip out when someone announces their pronouns as “they/them” because of grammar. I want future generations to be better than we are, and it starts with education.