Gender and Sexuality In Education

two groups of kids with football- one set of three boys beside one set of three girls holding football

For some people, figuring out their gender identity can be a real inconvenience. But it’s nothing to be worried about. People shouldn’t be afraid to go ahead and explore their options, whether they’re a boy, girl, transgender, intersex or anything aside from that. However, it’s important to note that the way in which gender and sexuality are perceived and treated in educational settings can really affect students’ mental health, academic achievement, and overall well-being. 

Gender inequality in education is something crucial for educational institutions to identify and correct. Lack of inclusivity and acceptance can also often lead to poor mental health outcomes, such as depression and anxiety, and can also negatively impact academic performance.

What are gender and sexuality?

Gender can be different for everyone.

It’s not just about being a boy or a girl, it’s about how we see ourselves and how the world sees us. Keep in mind that it’s not the same thing as sex, though, that’s just what the doctor says when you’re born.

With a sexual orientation you can like boys, girls, both or neither, so it’s all good. Let’s look difference between gender and sexuality

What is the difference between gender and sexuality?​

female and male gender signs looped together

Comparing gender and sexuality is like comparing apples to oranges. Sex is biological while gender is purely your personality.

Don’t be fooled, just because someone likes a certain type of clothing or activity, it doesn’t mean they have a certain type of sexual orientation or preference.

Like a favorite song, our gender and sexuality can change as we go through life. Maybe you used to love princesses, but now you’re all about superheroes. Maybe you thought you were straight, but now you’re questioning it. Just don’t worry too much about it.

Gender and sexual orientation are complex and personal, and it’s important to respect an individual’s unique story. It’s also important to remember that everyone’s story is different and not to make assumptions based on someone’s appearance or actions, and to respect each person’s journey.

Our gender and sexual orientation are just one part of the story of who we are. We’re also our race, ethnicity, class, faith, sense of geographic place, family history, and more.

And honestly, at the end of the day, we’re just trying to understand ourselves and others.

What are gender roles?

There are no specific gender roles, and everybody’s free to do what they think is beneficial to them and society. However, there is a mistaken idea of predefined gender roles about how men and women should act and think. But, these ideas are forced on people, no matter what they actually want.

These ideas are often not fair, especially for minorities. Even though some of these stereotypes might seem innocent, they can still do harm. Like, the idea that women should be like the perfect mom and caregiver, can make women feel like they have too much on their plate.

Stereotypes about Gender and Sexuality

Some stereotypes are just straight up bad, like men thinking they own their wives. Even though these stereotypes are happening less and less, they are still prevalent in certain areas globally and people aren’t really sure where these stereotypes come from. While some say it’s biology, others say it’s society.

Over time, movements and different ways of thinking like Marxism, challenged and rejected those stereotypes. And even so, some of those stereotypes are still around today and can change depending on where you are in the world.

A common one is that women should do all the housework and cooking, while men should work outside the home. 

woman working in construction

Is gender a social construct?

It’s a tricky question, and one that is still being debated among experts. Some argue that our sense of gender is a combination of both internal and external factors, shaped by both our personal experiences and the cultural influences around us.

Others propose that gender identity is primarily a matter of self-perception and self-expression, independent of social or biological factors.

Ultimately, the source of one’s gender identity is a complex and multifaceted topic, and likely varies from person to person.

How does gender inequality affect education?

The stereotypes related to gender and the factor of gender inequality have a direct impact on the subjects students choose to pursue. Boys usually go for math and science, while girls go for arts and literature, despite both having similar capabilities.

It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy. If a teacher thinks a girl isn’t good at math, then the girl will think she isn’t good at math.

Talking from statistics, according to a U.S. study, men are more likely to be associated with high-level intellectual ability, and this stereotype discourages girls from pursuing certain subjects and fields, and eventually influences their career choices.

In other words, girls grow up believing they aren’t good at math and science.

And the numbers don’t lie. In STEM industries, men outnumber women by a landslide, 27% of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) workforce is women in Australia, 20% of surgeons are women in the USA, while 90% of nurses are female. 

And when it comes to breaking the glass ceiling, it’s like trying to climb Mount Everest, less than one-third of senior and middle-management positions are occupied by women across 67 countries, and only 24% of members of national legislative bodies are women around the world.

However, it's not just a girl thing, boys often get affected too.

Like a game of tug-of-war, society is pulling them in one direction to drop out of school and earn money, while education is trying to keep them in school. Society starts forcing boys to believe that they should be strong and financially support their families.

To overcome this, educational institutes need education policies and systems based on gender equality, they also need gender-sensitive planning that takes into account the weight of gender norms and social roles.

In general

Gender and sexuality are big parts of who we are, and they can really affect our academic experiences.

Addressing gender and sexuality in education is a complex and multifaceted issue that requires a holistic approach. It’s important to remember that everyone’s story is different and to not make assumptions based on someone’s appearance or actions.

By creating inclusive policies and resources, providing comprehensive sex education, and providing training and education for teachers and staff, schools can work to create a safe and accepting environment for all students, regardless of their gender and sexual identity.

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