Who do you see represented in the books you read?
In Apple class we spent LGBTQ+ History Month thinking about who we usually see in picture books and what was different about some of the characters we met.
We are proud of our diversity in Apple and the children were delighted to see that the characters were diverse too – “One of his mums is black and one of them is white!”
It was wonderful to hear the children’s acceptance while engaged in discussing the plot of the stories. For them, the ‘problem’ was not having two mums, but dealing with having pirates for parents! The problem was not that a Merman loved a Fisherman, but how were they to be together when one lived in the sea and the other on land?
We continued to celebrate difference through our English unit – discussion text with a focus on clothing and gender stereotypes. We immersed ourselves in the topic through picture books, drama, art, and, you guessed it – a lot whole of discussion!
We brought imaginary scenarios to life through role play, tried to convince the main character of what they should do using a ‘conscience alley’, and represented our innermost selves by drawing our hidden shadows. When we sorted clothing into gendered sections a shop, we all had different ideas about where clothing should or would go – some of us even turned our page over and created a children’s section and an adult’s section.
Using the context of the picture books and Central’s very own gender-neutral school uniform, we explored arguments for and against children wearing what they like, regardless of gender. The children were empowered to explore and challenge different points of view to decide what their own opinions were. We can now verbalise and write strong arguments using a range of conjunctions.
Sadly, many children were concerned about the idea of children being treated unkindly, stared at or even bullied for going against so-called gender norms for clothing. Many found it difficult to understand why others would take issue with a child expressing their ‘true self’ and encouraged their characters to stand up for themselves. Even if others might not understand you, you will make real friends and be happy. As T so beautifully put it, ‘I don’t understand. Why is it when girls wear trousers no one laughs at them or says anything, but it’s a big deal if boys wear skirts or dresses?’