Sexually confused child?...ideas?

Discussion in 'General Education Archives' started by educ8or2000, Sep 22, 2006.

  1. educ8or2000

    educ8or2000 Rookie

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    Sep 22, 2006

    Hi all...once again I have a weird situation and I'm hoping for help from y'all :)

    I teach 4th grade in a suburban/rural school. There is a girl in one of my three classes whose behavior has me perplexed. On the first day of school, Grandmother had to physically pull her into the class to meet her teacher. (She has gone to school in our district her whole life so it wasn't an entirely new situation.) Anyway...Grandmother dropped her off and left with only these words..."She's having trouble lately...she wants to be a boy." Now as I finish the story, keep in mind I didn't know about the grandmother's comment until the 3rd day of school!

    Anyway...she looks completely like a boy. For the first 3 days, I thought she WAS a boy with a goofy name...it happens, right?? Anyway...I was totally shocked when I found out by talking with her homeroom teacher! I know, I know...it shouldn't have taken me 3 days to find out but it was a crazy start.

    Here's the problem...she has a very dark, quiet personality. She hangs around with the boys and chooses to do things with them. She LOOKS like a boy...short hair styled like a boy, she wears boy's jewelry and boy's clothes. When we played a class game and I separated the class into teams of boys and girls, she actually began crying, saying she didn't want to play. When I talked to her about it, she said she didn't like it when the class was divided into boys and girls. I've never had a student like this, but frankly, I think if she wants to "be" a boy, that's between her and her parents. However...everytime she is mistaken for a boy, she gets her feelings hurt!! I'm totally dumbfounded. If she wants to be a boy, I would think she would like being mistaken for a boy.

    I'm not sure what my question is for you...maybe just support. I know this is a difficult age for some kids so I want to do my best for her. Because she is not in my homeroom class, my interaction with her is limited, but I feel like I should do something to help or make her feel more comfortable. I guess I shouldn't split the class boys vs. girls, huh?

    Sorry this is so long...difficult to explain, as well as understand!Thoughts? Opinions? Ideas? Advice?

    Thanks!
     
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  3. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Sep 22, 2006

    Hmmm. This is a new one to me. Yeah, pick sticks or something to set up teams without bias. But, it is strange that she gets upset when mistaken for a boy. Have you talked to her individually? I probably would ask her point blank about the situation. Does she want to be a boy or just hang around with the boys? Does she choose her clothes because they are comfortable or because she likes the styling? If she wants to be seen as a girl, why doesn't she dress more traditionally? She, of course, may not know the answers to these questions, but she will know that you care about her feelings. If she truly is gender confused, she will not have an easy life.
     
  4. Giggles1100

    Giggles1100 Comrade

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    Sep 22, 2006

    I was wondering if she was a hermaphrodite, Parents choose theri child to live one way but when the dominant hormones begin kicking in, it normally happens between 3rd and 7th grade. I do not know how much contact you have with the child or parents but youmight pullt eh child aside like upsadaisy said or even call mom or dad and just mention her meltdown and that you just wanted to inform them in case she came home talking about it, that way you open the door for mom or dad to explain with out asking if they want to give an explaination, that is the time they will do it and if they do not want to explain, at least you haven't come straight out and asked and embarassed your self.
     
  5. herins

    herins Companion

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    Sep 22, 2006

    She is probably extremely confused right now, and simply needs to know that she will be accepted unconditionally. It sounds like she would benefit from seeing a psychologist. She is most likely not a hermaphrodite, as this is extremely rare and would not come as a surprise to the parents at this stage in her life; but she may be gender dysphoric (transgendered) or simply discovering she isn't attracted to boys. She certainly needs guidance and support right now.
     
  6. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Sep 23, 2006

    I'd definitely recommend counseling - it's not impossible that she's been sexually abused, or witnessed abuse.
     
  7. ArsPoetica

    ArsPoetica Rookie

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    Sep 23, 2006

    Gender dysphoria is someting that even young children can show signs of. The child has a feeling that he or she was born in the wrong sex and seek to "fix" the problem by acting the gender they feel is more appropriate for them. Look up "gender identity" in Wikipedia.org for more information and try visiting the PFLAG website. There may not be any history of sexual abuse but counseling can help your student figure out his/her place in the world.
    The most important thing you can do for your student is to set aside personal prejudices about the subject (if you have any) and treat the student as you would treat any other student. Chances are he/she needs as many people on her side as he/she can get. The problems that arise are simply things that you have to take in stride. If his/her feelings get hurt that is something that you should discuss with the parents and the counselor so they can help you better deal with it.
    The bottom line: Yes it will be uncomfortable for you at times, but the fact of the matter is every student that comes into your class is going to have their own unique qualities that you can learn to accept.
     
  8. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Sep 23, 2006

    Would any of you place her in groups with the boys if that is what she requests?
     
  9. herins

    herins Companion

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    Sep 23, 2006

    If she requested that, I would, but it sounds like she is still too confused or scared(?) to do that. I would stop splitting the class into boys and girls and find other ways of grouping them.
     
  10. Steph-ernie

    Steph-ernie Groupie

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    Sep 23, 2006

    I think you could get into tricky territory if you place her on the boys team upon request. Next thing you know, everyone could be saying they would rather play with the other gender. Plus, I'm not sure how the other students are reacting to this, but it could lead to problems from them if she were placed on the boys team.
     
  11. Beth2004

    Beth2004 Maven

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    I think that as far as the grouping issue it's probably best to just split the class up randomly, not by gender.
    This poor girl sounds very confused and school is probably not a very happy place for her to be right now. It sounds like she feels most comfortable around boys and wearing boys' clothes, but doesn't want to be different either and that's really confusing her. I think (as others have suggested) that showing her that you care and you are there for her is probably one of the best things that you can do.
     
  12. moonbeamsinajar

    moonbeamsinajar Habitué

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    Sep 23, 2006

    Maybe she is feeling scared or worried about the changes her body will go through at puberty. 4th graders certainly see enough raunchy stuff on tv and music videos. Maybe she really does not want to be a boy...but is just frightened about what being a grown up girl involves.
     
  13. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Sep 23, 2006

    Then again, it could just be nothing. I was an only child, and the few kids in my neighborhood were all boys. I had short "boy" hair, and I wore lots of jeans and t-shirts . . . and played with lots of "boy toys". People even used to ask Mom about her "little boy", and they were surprised that I was a girl. I often chose boy games or boy friends. I did have girl friends and toys, too. The closer I got to puberty, the more "girly" I got.

    However, we have one student who was a girl until 5th grade, but is now a boy . . . so it does happen. Everyone seems to handle it suprisingly well.
     
  14. educ8or2000

    educ8or2000 Rookie

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    Sep 23, 2006

    Thanks for the support and words of wisdom. I was just at a loss of what else to do/say. She has been referred to the school counselor, but I'm not sure what her parents are/have been doing. I just want her to be happy. She is a very cute kid whether she is a boy or a girl. I personally don't care which she is...like I said, I feel that is not really 'my' business, but hers and her parents. Because this is such a difficult age, I just want her to know I care about her. Guess for right now, that's all I can do...care and show it.

    Thanks again! :)
     
  15. worktorule

    worktorule New Member

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    Sep 24, 2006

    I agree with a previous poster. I don't really see what the problem is here. If she feels she wants to "dress like a boy" (whatever that means), that's her right. Sending her to consuling for that alone could lead to real problems in the long run.. sort of how overacting when a child pees the bed can damage them for life.
     
  16. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    Sep 27, 2006

    Interesting stuff. Ive seen all of this too. Majority of the time
    they are gay when they grow up. Ive seen it too many times.
    I have a stepdad now determined that his boy won't be gay
    by making him play football, etc. He is a great kid but no doubt he will grow up gay. Ive seen it lots of time (Ive taught long enough
    to almost teach some grandchildren of my first class). THe best thing the school can do is to accept this kid and keep the other kids from tormenting them as they get older. If you can somehow raise the status of the kid by something they do outstanding it can make the other kids more inclined to accept her. We all know, as they get older, they like to single out of the herd the different ones.
     
  17. todaytonight

    todaytonight New Member

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    Sep 27, 2006

    I always thought it wasn't a good idea to separate kids in class based on gender. There shouldn't be a boy line and a girl line to the bathroom or boys versus girls spelling bees. It just encourages stereotyping and biases against the other gender. I know from my own experiences, how upset my niece was when her teacher only picked the boys to carry boxes into another classroom. It makes some of the girls feel inferior.

    As for the student you mentioned, the main concern would be how she is treated by her classmates. Do the boys not want her around because she is a girl? Or do the girls not want her around because she acts like a boy? Stop any bullying before it starts.
     

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