Schools are diverse places where students and families have a variety of life experiences and core values.
While taking this into account we, as educators, need to remember that “as a teacher in a New South Wales public school or TAFE institute you will be helping children and young people develop into adults who can contribute to a society that is comfortable with diversity, rejects violence and negative forms of discrimination and is compassionate towards others in need” ( www.dec.nsw.gov.au/about-us/careers-centre/why-choose-us/values). Students must be allowed to feel that they are valued and respected members of their school
To be more inclusive primary school teachers can:
•allow students to choose books that show diverse family groupings. The NSW Teachers Federation Library has a variety of GLBTI resources for classroom use
•use guest speakers who don’t conform to gender stereotypes, such as male nurses or women engineers
•don’t limit the possibilities for children by reinforcing gender stereotyped behaviours, for example boys prefer to play with blocks whereas girls prefer dramatic play
•use inclusive language when talking to students about their families outside the classroom. By using more inclusive vocabulary like “respect” or “diverse”, teachers help students to develop a more respectful and inclusive vocabulary
•intervene when you hear students or colleagues making gender based assumptions about students
•write math problems or use scenarios that include a variety of family structures and gender expressions, for example, “Darren wants to bake a special cake for his grandmother. The original recipe has 2 cups of flour but he is doubling the recipe. How much flour does he need?”
•remember that practising respectful attitudes and behaviours takes time. Encourage students to practice these attitudes and behaviours.
David Young is a member of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Restricted Committee.