Geneseo does a decent job of providing opportunities for students to educate themselves regarding LGBTQ+ issues. Higher education and the media allow college-aged students who have the desire to learn about the important differences between concepts such as gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation to do so.
Unfortunately, because transgender issues have only recently been brought to the public eye in more accepting and understanding ways, many elementary or grade schools fail to represent trans culture and individuals in their education systems.
College students can educate themselves outside of the classroom by accessing various types of media. Shows such as Amazon’s “Transparent,” books such as Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family and celebrities such as Laverne Cox speak out to help inform teenage students and older individuals about the fight for transgender rights.
New types of formal education regarding transgender rights have been popular with specific courses and trainings—such as SafeZone Training—and are becoming more widely available. Further, college students can understand the importance of using the pronouns a person is comfortable with and what it means to be a transgender man, a transgender woman or intersex.
The ability to discuss these complex and confusing concepts in both formal and informal environments allows students to make mistakes and to learn from them. This is what education is all about: expanding our knowledge on certain subjects so that we can continue to foster an inclusive environment for all individuals.
The lack of LGBTQ+ education for young children’s public education, however, was recently brought to light through the banning of a book called Jacob’s New Dress in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School system in North Carolina.
Tami Fitzgerald, the executive director of coalition for the school, according to The New York Times, said the book was, “meant as a tool of indoctrination to normalize transgender behavior,” and that “a lot of parents would object to that.”
“We believe the purpose of first grade is to teach writing, reading and math and not to teach boys to wear dresses,” Fitzgerald said.
These comments are not only insensitive and offensive, but they also highlight the exact reason why this book is necessary in childhood education. Jacob’s New Dress was supposed to “help students recognize harassment and bullying and teach them what to do if it happens,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg School superintendent Ann Clark said, according to The New York Times.
The lack of education regarding transgender individuals at a young age could be detrimental to continuing to create a safe place for all individuals. Teaching children the importance of acceptance and inclusiveness is imperative—especially when it comes to transgender individuals.
What kids learn now in school will affect the way they grow up and act for the rest of their lives.
It is not only important to make transgender children—and all children—feel accepted and loved, but for all individuals, regardless of their age, to be educated about the different kinds of individuals that make up the world.
Especially in the early stages of education, it is imperative for children to understand that their differences aren’t something to be ashamed of—they are something to be proud of.