Do gender based reading materials damage boys and girls and should they be removed from elementary school classrooms?

Owatonna, MN Correspondent- Working from the assumption that the term gender-based reading material means books and other print media that feature characters who don’t identify as heterosexual males or females, I’ll say quite equivocally, “it depends.” Too much gender-based reading material sends the message that students might be “abnormal” if they are a heterosexual male or female. Little or no gender-based reading material sends the message that only two types of people exist in the entire world, and anything other than heterosexual male or female is abnormal. In either extreme, I don’t believe most students would be damaged. Children are usually much more flexible and tolerant than adults. These sorts of reading material shouldn’t be removed from classrooms, but they should be used judiciously and with sensitivity to the cognitive abilities of young students.

I see a greater problem here than the risk of damaging students. Public education has evolved into a vast factory with the express goal of churning out malleable, subservient, interchangeable, and easily replaced worker drones at the lowest cost to society. To achieve that goal, administrators and educators opt for the one-size-fits-all approach. This means standardized curricula, rigid schedules, limited course options (most are currently geared toward college preparation), large class sizes, and restrictive teaching methods such as the typical lecture format and standardized tests.

When we emphasize conformity over individuality in our teaching, it’s natural to expect all students to conform to a standard of one of two genders—male or female. Thanks to the gay rights movement and increased awareness and acceptance of transgendered individuals, society is realizing more and more that we are a nation of 320 million unique individuals that are not easily divided into two categories of male and female.

That doesn’t mean that we should elevate gender differences to a major issue and drastically alter curricula to overexpose students to alternative genders. Homosexual and transgender individuals still comprise a small percentage of the populace. Include their stories and perspectives on a proportional basis that reflects their actual numbers in this country and students will benefit.

Awareness of differences between any two people is good, whether the difference is based on sex, race, religion, politics, or any other measure. The American melting pot is intended to include everyone, not only those who meet some arbitrary standard.

Gastonia, NC Correspondent– As the son of an English professor, the thought of removing any remotely acceptable reading materials from classrooms and school libraries makes my eye twitch. We’re not too far removed from the days when “Fahrenheit 451” and “1984” and other books positing a dark future were banned and suppressed, and “Huckleberry Finn” was considered a work of nearly seditious nature.

The question of gender is a favorite chewing-bone among educators and those who style themselves as framers of our educational theory and practice. Recently, a couple refused to list their child’s gender on birth records because they wanted the child to grow up to choose for itself. The move was widely hailed by those who spend far too much time worrying about which bathroom to use and other damaged individuals.

Issues of gender are with us to stay, but they need to be kept out of schools as much as possible. Let the children learn math, science, civics, history and all the other subjects they’ll need to operate as responsible citizens and good Americans. Leave the choice of bathrooms, partners and lifestyles for a later time.

Sheffield, Jamaica Correspondent-Gender based education was formerly practiced in the United States, but its influence in the 19th century, at least in public schools waned. However, of late, districts are now experimenting to determine if gender based education will help elementary school classrooms improve in academics.

There are mixed emotions to this ideology. I do believe that, as interests differ based on gender, boys and girls should be given separate books to read. This is just to ensure that the right strategies are used to impress and impact each gender.

On the other hand, while I do believe in gender based materials, I’m also a firm supporter in mixing it up. Girls should be acquainted with reading materials geared toward boys, and the same applies for boys. There’s no foul done when boys are allowed to read female specific materials and vice versa.

Children learn when they can relate to each other. Allowing them the privilege to read books for both genders create and foster an environment for that. It’s a mix and mingle situation.

Reading nongender based books also helps elementary school kids to see the world in color – not narrow-minded – or from a single point-of-view.

If boys and girls were to read gender based materials, that could equate to separating black children from white children. Eventually, one gender is bound to develop a feeling of superiority above the other.

I don’t believe gender based materials should be removed from elementary classrooms, but rather used sparingly and where necessary.

Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent-True gender based reading materials that utilize information related to defining or distinguishing the predilections of girls and boys are not damaging and should be allowed to remain in classrooms. Children need reaffirmation and acknowledgement of who they are and if verification of their identity comes in the form of suitable and appropriate reading materials, geared toward what either gender can learn and achieve , then they should not be removed from elementary school classrooms.

Scientific studies concerning gender roles and preferences have shown that they are innate. Studies completed by New Scientist, Emory University, Texas A&M, Harvard University and National Geographic have indicated that young male monkeys living in remote and wild areas preferred toys like trucks and wheels while young female monkeys in the same environment preferred dolls. The same results were present across the board in all the studies conducted, which were completed under strict scientific conditions, and there were no contradictory studies to prove otherwise, plus the subjects of the studies were much too young to have been socialized in their choices in the wild.

In contrast to these studies, educators are professing, without scientific evidence, that gender-based materials are damaging to boys and girls and that any related reading materials must be removed from classrooms. Educators taking this position are increasing, and they have no evidence, other than their feelings, to back their standing on the issue. Professional educators are depending on the opinions and doctrines of others and on pressuring those who don’t adhere to the current prevailing attitude.

Much of what is considered gender bias has been brought on by decades of political correctness that has been further impacted by the feminist movement. Putting women in their place and denying them certain rights, salary equivalencies and general equality with men have been issues for some time, but these generalized assessments don’t deal with the real issues of women that deal with far greater dangerous and destructive discrimination throughout the world. There has been little to no outcry for gender justice for women in these kinds of situations, and expert educators worried about gender bias in reading materials have no solutions for horrific treatment of women, other than to pretend it doesn’t exist.

If girls and boys are to become all they were meant to be, proven scientific methods for determining what is best for each gender must become the focal point in the classroom as opposed to faux science that comes from opinions of so-called experts. Opinion based methods of solving problems concerning gender bias must be discarded. Eliminating reading materials that reflect gender is not the answer.

Real policies can be developed that confront and tackle stereotypes concerning gender bias instead of forbidding them from being part of classroom policy. Analysis of gender bias can be accomplished in a rational and practical manner when proven scientific methods and the appropriate reading materials and other strategies are incorporated within a classroom structure.

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