Teach Gender Equity without Fear

Many people are very confused about whether or not schools can still teach gender equity education after the referendum at the end of 2018; and teachers are worried about being sued for teaching gender equity courses. However, if teachers do not teach gender equity, they can have a bad conscience for disregarding children’s developmental needs.

We sort out the five most asked questions by teachers after the referendum, hoping to assist teachers in Teaching Gender Equity with Confidence.

Q1: Can teachers teach gender temperament, sexual orientation, and gender identity in school?

Of course, yes! Teachers have a legal basis to teach gender equity education.

According to the Gender Equity Education Act, schools shall provide a gender-fair learning environment, respect and give due consideration to students, faculty, and staff with different gender, gender temperaments, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Moreover, it shall establish a safe campus environment.

In terms of the hierarchy of the legal system, the Gender Equity Education Act is a law ranked higher than the Enforcement Rules for the Gender Equity Education Act—a regulation. Thus, even though the Enforcement Rules for the Gender Equity Education Act has been changed, it still will not affect teachers to teach concepts like gender temperament, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

Moreover, the current Article 13 of the Enforcement Rules for the Gender Equity Education Act stipulates that gender equity education courses should contain “affective education, sex education, different gender, gender characteristics, gender temperaments, gender identity, and sexual orientation, and prevention and handling of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and sexual bullying on campus.” (1080046480B, Ministry of Education.)

Therefore, from either law or regulation, “courses on knowing more about and respecting gender differences, gender characters, gender temperaments, gender identities, gender orientation education” should be the contents taught in school.

The following chart is the explanation of gender equity education provided by the K-12 Education Administration, Ministry of Education after the referendum:

Q2: What should I prepare before teaching courses related to gender equity?

If teachers find something that students need to learn and decide to give them a lesson immediately, they can do so by telling LGBTQ related stories, picture books or current affairs. These are defined as a teacher’s teaching activity, which is protected by teachers’ professional autonomy. Schools may compile alternative textbooks, select teaching materials, and develop teaching activities. Such teaching materials that are adopted for the whole grade or school for one whole semester or more will be presented to the school’s Committee of School Curriculum Development for further review just like other subjects.

Teacher ‘s experiences

“If teachers find something that students need to learn and decide to give them a lesson immediately, they can do so by telling LGBTQ related stories, picture books or current affairs. These are defined as a teacher’s teaching activity, which is protected by teachers’ professional autonomy. Schools may compile alternative textbooks, select teaching materials, and develop teaching activities. Such teaching materials that are adopted for the whole grade or school for one whole semester or more will be presented to the school’s Committee of School Curriculum Development for further review just like other subjects.”
Liu Yi, an elementary school teacher in New Taipei City

These are things you can do

Q3: Is there anything that I need to pay attention to when teaching gender equity education courses?

Teacher ‘s experiences

“Gender equity issues have to be fully discussed between teachers and students in the class. Teachers also need to carefully observe students’ responses to the topics discussed so that they know students’ level of understanding and they can reply to children’s thoughts and questions in time. Don’t forget to record and collect students’ feedback and thoughts on the courses!”
Li-Shu, an elementary school teacher in New Taipei City

These are things you can do

  • Have sufficient communication with students in the class.
  • Take a record of students’ feedback and their learning diary.

Q4: What should teachers do if they receive a complaint after class?

Teacher ‘s experiences

“I will clearly explain to students why we are having this course; communicate with them about their needs, and tell them what I have prepared for teaching this course. Besides that, I will also collect student’s thoughts and feedback after the class. In fact, gender equity education is a statutory course. Teaching this course is stipulated in the curriculum; therefore, teaching gender equity education has a legal basis.”
Hsiao-Hui, an elementary school teacher in New Taipei City

These are things you can do

  • Clearly describe the legal basis of teaching gender equity and explain teacher’s communication before the class and students’ feedback collected after the class.
  • Invite gender-friendly parents and students to share their feedback on the class contents.

Q5: If our school needs teachers to provide the basis of teaching gender equity education, what should I write?

Sugeestions

1. Reference chart

Teachers can explain the issues taught in class and the current curriculum guideline as well as students’ learning goals, the essential meaning of the course and its basis. Below is where you can find our reference chart.

2. Domestic and international laws

Actually, other than the Gender Equity Education Act and the Enforcement Rules for the Gender Equity Education Act, there are still many domestic and international laws related to gender equity education that protect teachers’ professional autonomy and support the implementation of gender equity education on campus!

Teachers can take a closer look at Teachers’ Guide Q&A—About Sources of Law in Big Questions on LGBTQ Education for detailed laws and regulations.

3. Legal Aid Foundation’s helping line

If teachers teach gender equity education courses according to the law but are spited by others or received complaints, now there is a dedicated line for teachers to get assistance from a professional legal aid team!

Legal Aid Foundation’s helping line: 4128518

Teacher’s Experience

Teacher Hsiao-Hui’s experiences

I usually ask students to write diaries and note down their thoughts or things happened to them.

There was one time that a child was called sissy by his classmates, making him very uncomfortable. After I clarified the situation and got his permission, then I spent some time in class to discuss with students about the cause of the incident and talk about concepts of gender equity such as gender temperament, individual differences, discrimination, and respect.

Because I am a homeroom teacher, I have the opportunity to engage with and observe students more closely. Gender equity education is indeed an important need for students. In school, homeroom teachers usually teach Chinese, math and integrative activities, among which integrative activities are more suitable for discussing gender equity issues. However, back to the case we mentioned above, I rearranged the class schedules according to my professional evaluation since the next integrative activities class would be nearly a week later. I decided to use one Chinese and one math class to discuss issues regarding gender equity with students and asked students to write their reflections in their diaries afterward.

A (gender) friendly environment cannot be built by just two classes of discussion, neither can it be established with students’ friendly attitude alone. Teachers can share with parents their ideas and methods toward gender equity education through Parents Day every semester, letting parents know students’ feedback and changes and inviting parents to pay attention to and take part in supporting teachers for teaching gender equity education. I believe that not only students but also parents will become a positive force in gender equity that drives the improvement of our society.

Teacher Liu Yi’s experiences

When I write curriculum plan as a homeroom teacher, I select suitable themes and subjects to include gender equity issues. For example picture books about family diversity can be incorporated in the family unit of the integrative activities; picture books about gender temperament can be included in the life curriculum so that children with different temperaments can be happy to accept and affirm themselves; reading articles about models of different genders can be practiced in the language subjects.

During the semester, teachers can find some topics to discuss with students based on students’ needs. For example, there was some news about murder for love a while ago so I discussed power relations and interactions in relationships and emotion management with students in senior grades. These topics are also in line with the gender equity capability index of the Grade 1-9 Integrated Curriculum Guideline. The Curriculum Guideline of 12-year National Basic Education also stipulates that “learning comes from everyday life situations.” Moreover, when I hear students talking using gender stereotype and discrimination words, I would spend time discussing with students the value of differences and how to respect others and treat people equally in class. We hope that by trying to bring the gender equity issues in class, people in this world can live their lives the way they like.

Teacher Li-Shu’s experiences

I am a social science subject teacher. Concepts in social science textbooks are often very abstract so that teachers have to provide concrete examples like current affairs as supporting materials. Students often share with me news they saw on media so when same-sex marriage becomes a subject of heated debate, answering children’s question is inevitable.

I think being sincere and face children’s questions is a basic attitude for an educational worker. I will faithfully tell my students opinions from each side and situations of different countries; for example, countries that have already legalized same-sex marriage and countries that execute homosexuals. Then we will discuss what kind of social system we are expecting to have.

Of course, some parents will still have doubts. Facing parents with different opinions, I will, first of all, acknowledge their care for their children. (After all, some parents may not even know what their children are learning at school. Parents who care about their children and are willing to listen to children about what they have learned are worthy of encouragement.) Then I will try to encourage children to exchange opinions with their parents regarding issues that we have mentioned in class. If children cannot explain the situation clearly, I will then respond to parents’ doubts over controversial issues with objective and clear facts. Surely I will accept different opinions with an open mind. I will also face challenges with a nice attitude.

By doing so, even though doubtful parents will not stand on our side immediately, it still allows them to give the issue a second thought. They may at least respect each individual’s differences.

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