A few weeks ago, the comments section of Fox News was engaged in a heated debate. For the first time in history, a Nebraska school district pushed social boundaries by taking a stance for gender diversity, and a bold one at that.
Administrators at the Lincoln School Board distributed a document that included non-gendered pronouns. Their intent was to encourage teachers to create a gender-inclusive classroom that was welcoming to everyone. However, Irving Middle School, located in Lincoln, Nebraska, gained special media attention. Sources claim that the document, provided by Gender Spectrum, instructed teachers to call their students “purple penguins” instead of “boys” and “girls.” This, in turn, has sparked controversy and parental concern. Some parents are arguing that providing gender neutral spaces will confuse their children. Others are just not sure of the purpose behind the document.
Lincoln, NE public schools are eliminating calling kids "boys and girls" in the name of gender inclusiveness. Are they going too far?
— Varney & Co. (@Varneyco) October 10, 2014
Brenda Leggiardo, coordinator for counselors at Lincoln Public Schools, tackled these concerns in her response through the Journal Star.
She said, “The agenda we’re promoting is to help all kids succeed.” She continued, “We have kids who come to us with a whole variety of circumstances, and we need to equitably serve all kids.”
Despite the claims of social media networks, school administrators are not mandating that teachers classify their students by obscure names. Instead, they are giving supportive handouts provided by Gender Spectrum that will equip teachers with the information and tools to create a welcoming classroom to current and incoming students. Their goal is to foster an environment that teaches students to respect each other, regardless of identity.
It is always a special moment when a school takes the time to celebrate the diversity in a student body. I propose that, as a society, we follow suit.