Gender Inclusion: A Guide to Teachers

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By Education Today

Posted on January 3, 2023


4 min read

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Gender Inclusion: A Guide to Teachers

Students all over the world identify across a full spectrum of gender identities and gender expressions. Educational institutions should be environments that encourage the full involvement of students of all genders and take action in response to the detrimental effects of gender stereotyping and misgendering on student learning. Any discipline’s instructors can encourage gender inclusion in their classes by implementing certain tactics. There are purposeful practices you might include in your curriculum, regulations, classroom management, and relationships with students.

Equal frequency of representation

Characters in instructional materials (textbooks) should correctly reflect the variety of traits prevalent in the particular society. Characters in teaching and learning materials should represent the distribution of various languages and ethnicities that exist in the broader social environment in settings where several languages are spoken and ethnic groups are present. Because there are people with varied physical, mental, and sensory impairments in every society, characters dealing with these problems in novels ought to portray these variations in good and welcoming ways. 

Gender Equitable and Inclusive Materials

To prevent stereotyping in study materials, the following factors should be taken into account while creating teaching and learning materials.

(i) Size and placement: All socially representative characters should have the same size illustrations and feature roughly equally frequently. The characters should play comparable duties as well.

(ii) Inclusiveness: A character with a disability should appear in about 15% of illustrations, ideally with a variety of disabilities represented (for example, those with modest to severe physical impairments). Characters from various racial and religious groups should be proportionally represented in illustrations. 

For example, portraying female characters engaging in activities that are usually restricted to boys, depicting male and female characters appearing in open, as well as closed, spaces, including characters from marginalized groups in stories.

Gender Equitable and Inclusive Language

To prevent language stereotyping, the following issues should be taken into account while creating teaching and learning materials. 

(i) Use of nonrestrictive gender pronouns

  • Instead of regularly using masculine pronouns when referring to a non-specific figure, use “he” or “she” or “him” and “her” alternately. 
  • The appropriate personal pronoun (i.e., “she” or “he” or “them”) should always be used to refer to a specific character when discussing them. 
  • When referring to particular groups, the appropriate masculine and feminine pronouns (such as sportsmen, sportswomen, and postmen, respectively) should be used.
  • When possible, use the neutral version of a title and job description (for instance, chairperson rather than chairman).

(ii) Use of “relational” definitions

  • Male characters should be identified in the same way as female characters are identified by familial ties. Female characters should be recognised in the same way that male characters are if they share the same social roles. For instance, a male figure should be referred to as “the uncle” if a female character is called “the mother.” In contrast, if a male character is referred to as “a teacher,” the female character should likewise be described in terms of their line of work, such as “the parent teacher association member” or “the farmer.” 

(iii) Use of “person-first” language

  •  When describing people with disabilities, language should be positive and avoid using labels or preconceptions that are derogatory.
  • When referring to people with disabilities, “person-first” language should be used, such as “a girl who is blind” rather than “a blind girl.”

Every kid has the right to have their parents and community support them as they learn, grow, and develop during their formative years. When they are old enough to attend school, they also have the right to be accepted and included by both their peers and teachers. Everyone gains when all children, whatever their differences, are educated together; this is the basis of inclusive education. As an overall principle, inclusive education should guide all education policies and practices, starting from the fact that education is a basic human right and the foundation for a more just and equal society.