What to do when you can't identify the gender of a student?

Discussion in 'Substitute Teachers' started by DreamerSeeker, Jan 17, 2020.

  1. DreamerSeeker

    DreamerSeeker Rookie

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    Jan 17, 2020

    As a regular teacher or a sub, have you ever had a class where you don't know what gender a student is?
    At my public school district (both elementary and high school), I've witnessed a few students who's hairstyle, clothes, facial features, and voice make them look like they could be either gender and it doesn't help when they have unisex names. I can't just ask them what gender they are, so what do you do in such cases? Do you just use their names and refrain from using the words "boy" or "girl" in your classroom?
     
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  3. sevenplus

    sevenplus Connoisseur

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    Jan 17, 2020

    As a regular teacher you should have access to their files which should include the information. (Well, maybe not how they identify, but their birth certificate and the gender their parents put on paperwork during enrollment.)

    As a sub I'd just use gender neutral words.
     
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  4. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Jan 17, 2020

    Bingo. Address them by name, continue to use their name instead of he or she if asking follow up questions, ex. "Based on what James said, are there other thoughts?" instead of "do you agree with him?"
     
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  5. Milsey

    Milsey Habitué

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    Feb 29, 2020

    Yeah it's weird. I address them as you , or I might say kid.
     
  6. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    Yeah, it's even harder with co-workers. I just use their names instead he/she.
     
  7. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    The name is the clue to what gender the individual identifies with, and that is the best clue of all.
     
  8. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    Mar 3, 2020

    The OP mentioned gender neutral names. With some names you just can't tell.

    I've met men and women with the names Taylor, Cody, Jordan, etc.
     
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  9. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Mar 3, 2020

    I guess my question would be why I should worry about whether Taylor, Cody, or Jordan are boys or girls as a sub? As the classroom teacher, I am sure that I will get a list that notes gender, but what has that got to do with how they look? As long as I can address them by name, the question is kind of a moot point. OP kind of hits on the truth in the last sentence "refrain from using the words "boy" or "girl" in your classroom". I can't think of too many reasons to ask whether a child is male or female that doesn't come down to idle curiosity. If one listens carefully, however, and you are very curious, the other students tend to know gender, and refer to their classmates as he or she. A sub might not have time to pick it up, but the regular teacher would be aware rather quickly.
     
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  10. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Mar 5, 2020

    Why is it "weird" to you? It is our job as public school professionals to be sensitive to all students, regardless of their gender expression.
     
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  11. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    We have several transgender and gender-fluid students in my K-8 school. I have a note in my sub binder re preferred pronouns for my gender-fluid student, along with a note to just use their (gender-neutral) name if that is easier. I also ask that they not use "boys and girls" or "ladies and gentlemen" to either address the class or as a way to group students.
     
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  12. Milsey

    Milsey Habitué

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    I'm not in customer service. I get paid very little for all the work I do, OK? Sometimes I don't have the time to be courteous. They will quickly find out that I am the sun in my classroom, and they/he she whatever are the dwarf planets.
     
  13. Aces

    Aces Habitué

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    Mar 8, 2020

    Out of curiosity, if a student walked up to your and said “hey you, where’s my grades?” What would be your reaction? Would you be offended? Would you be upset? What if your VP/P came up to you and said “hey teach, need you to complete your grades by close of school Friday.” How would that make you feel? Would you be upset with that person? Would you demand some basic level of respect? Would you reprimand your student for calling you “hey you”? If you would, why do you think you’re deserving of respect and a student is not?

    Moreover, why can we not be kind and courteous regardless of our pay? We in the education profession are paving the way for tomorrow’s leaders, engineers, movers and shakers. Shouldn’t kindness be taught?
     
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  14. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Mar 9, 2020

    Seeking attention o_O
     
  15. whizkid

    whizkid Groupie

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    Mar 9, 2020

    Just use their name. I've been confused many days because of hairstyles.
     
  16. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Mar 10, 2020

    Really, we should be avoiding using language that reinforces the gender binary, anyway. Saying, "students" instead of "boys and girls," etc. I have a coworker who is so bad about this, and also about reinforcing heteronormative stereotypes. I hate it because at the summer camp where I train the staff, I can get college kids (read: not professionally licensed) on board for using language that recognizes a spectrum of gender and sexuality, but a whole grown man with multiple degrees can't figure it out and acts like cis, hetero, Christian people are the only people who exist...
     
  17. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Mar 10, 2020

    Double post...
     
  18. Aces

    Aces Habitué

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    Mar 10, 2020

    I generally try to use whichever pronouns the student prefers, if that information is known. Otherwise I stick to neutral terms or better yet their name if know it. I think sometimes people forget that one’s expression of themselves is one of the most important things.

    I will admit I struggled a bit this year with different pronouns, not knowing their name, etc. I had to make a tremendous effort this year to start with.
     

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