Being Inclusive

Maleah Evans, Reporter

We live in a gendered society. Everything has its own gendered box, from birth to death. Even the most pointless items are separated by gender, like toothbrushes and deodorant.

It’s now up to society to educate themselves on something they may be unsure about.

People who are gender-nonconforming can be transgender, nonbinary, or even cisgender. Gender non-conforming those who don’t typically conform with the gender norms that are expected of them by society. Nonbinary is typically used as an umbrella terms to describe gender identities that are neither male nor female, they fall outside the gender binary. A person who identifies as nonbinary may use the neutral they/them/theirs set of pronouns, but not all do, some use she/her/hers or he/him/his pronouns and can still identify as nonbinary. Cisgender is used to describe a person who’s gender corresponds with their birth sex.

Gender does not equal sex.

The general rule of thumb is if you’re unsure of a person’s gender identity, ask, or use gender neutral pronouns until you’re sure.

The school setting is still an incredibly gendered place, separating students by gender, addressing classes with ‘ladies and gentlemen’, and being generally uneducated about other gender identities. A massive way to combat this is for schools to implement gender neutral bathrooms and for staff members to educate themselves on students who may be gender-nonconforming. Another way the school system can be more inclusive is to implement safe-spaces for LGBT and gender-nonconforming kids.

Individually, teachers can educate themselves outside of the school setting and choose whether or not to implement what they learned in their day to day lives.

This non-inclusive environment can be harmful to gender-nonconforming students both physically and mentally. They can face bullying and harassment, experience depressive episodes, or even suffer from gender dysphoria, significant distress related to their desire to conform to another gender.

As a nonbinary student myself, using the singular they/them pronouns, the school setting is difficult. The first day of school was dreaded, the mission of pulling teachers aside and telling them about the change, inevitably having to explain what ‘nonbinary’ even is. Most took it well, telling me that they’d try their best and that I may need to remind them. It was harder with teachers I have had previously, and to be honest, most I didn’t tell at all.

As a typically female presenting person, people assume that I’m a female and don’t take well to me telling them otherwise. It’s a bombardment of ‘miss’, ‘ma’am’, ‘young lady’, each digging deeper into my mental health. I have a fantastic support system in my friends and long-term partner, but it still hurts each time.

All I, and others who are going through this same thing, ask is that please educate yourself and stand up for those who have no voice of their own.

If you want to help, educate yourself and others, petition school districts, and be an ally to those who are around you. We’re not new and we’re here to stay.