One Reaction to the book Supporting Gender Diversity in Early Childhood Classrooms

One Reaction to the book Supporting Gender Diversity in Early Childhood Classrooms

Binary gender assumptions are
      " any cultural norm it is specific to a time and place."

My thoughts centered on my learning journey:  

"In this time of social transition learning (and maybe more importantly unlearning)” becomes the entry or gateway to a more just society. If a more just society is my goal as related to gender neutral language, then I must aggressively and intentionally both learn new ways of conceptualizing gender and then how I am using gendered/ungendered terms.

These intentions also mean that I will inevitably fall back into habitual patterns at those times when I am distracted or inattentive, I will make mistakes. I need others to help me in my journey. I live in a contextualized world.

The resistance I see to change is great and will continue to be great as the understanding of why and how these changes are necessary to the well-being of others. I cannot imagine that through my use of gendered language that I would want to diminish or be hurtful to another person, but as I learn and unlearn the use of gender-neutral language I will, and have, actually been the instrument of painful experiences to others. This lends a sense of urgency to my awareness and actions and my need to change the way I communicate.

As the use of gender-neutral language becomes more wide-spread I know I will thankfully experience it from multiple encounters. With this support the task of learning and unlearning will hopefully become more deeply engrained in my mind and my actions. Thereby, nudging me forward as I become more consistent. This will happen precisely because this more inclusive language will become the model, the reminder, and the encouragement to be more intentional in my language in all situations. I will learn to leave the old-engrained ways of thinking and take this language into my brain-knowing way of thinking and my heart-knowing ways of feeling. It is a learning curve to be embraced.

The vocabulary for all areas of creating of a just society will confuse those with limited direct experience with a broader more inclusive view of the world. The narrow confines of living a life based on traditional marginalization of one’s own group and limited awareness of narrow and direct histories will keep me from seeing and understanding others outside of my experience.

I cannot know or understand things beyond my experience. This unknowing and unexperienced world is confusing and causes fear. It is the experience of being confronted with ideas that do not make sense—in a particular limitation of time and place that will move me forward in awareness and belief.

If the change in vocabulary is the foundation of facilitating the change in actuality for me, I need the direction and correction of others to help me get there. Change does not come in isolation from the world around me. It comes because of the world around me.

Thank you all again for engaging with me on this journey. Please add to and give feedback to these brief thoughts. I welcome dialogue.

Submitted by Cary Larson-McKay, Chair of the CAAEYC Equity and Inclusion Committee