Gender Diversity Resources for Elementary Parents
What does Gender Diversity Mean?
We all have a gender identity and we each understand and express our gender differently. Gender diversity is an umbrella term that encompasses all understandings and expressions of gender, from male and female, to non-binary gender, gender fluid, or transgender. For some people, the idea that gender is binary does not fit the authentic representation of who they are. For others, stereotypic expressions of gender may not fit with how they feel about themselves and their identity. Gender diversity recognizes that there are many ways to authentically express your true gender, and gender does not limit us in what can achieve, become, or dream. For more information about gender diversity, click here.
How long will the lessons be?
Each grade level lesson is roughly 30-45 minutes long and will be delivered by the school counselor once a year per class.
What will the lessons be like?
Currently, each classroom is visited by their school counselor approximately once per month for a lesson on a social-emotional topic. A gender diversity lesson will be added to this schedule. Most of these lessons begin with the sharing of a book, after which the students are led through a discussion of the topics presented in the book, and the lesson finishes with a shared activity.
How were the lessons developed and reviewed?
OPUSD’s gender diversity lessons are based in developmental norms and delivered by the counseling staff as part of the existing Character Counts lesson continuum and in support of our Anti-Bullying initiatives. These lessons draw upon lessons from organizations such as, Teaching Tolerance, Welcoming Schools, and Rainbow Umbrella. The full lesson plan has been reviewed by our district counselors, Safe Kids Task Force, Curriculum Council, District Leadership, and approved by the OPUSD School Board at the April 23, 2019 meeting.
Are teachers still allowed to talk about boys and girls?
Of course! Awareness of the gender spectrum does not, in any way, negate that there are boys and girls. The gender spectrum celebrates boys, girls, and all gender expressions.
Will you be talking to my child about sex or intimate relationships?
Frequently Asked Questions
Gender Diversity Lesson Plans
In OPUSD, we affirm and support the rights of all individuals, including those on the gender spectrum, and educate students with diverse gender expressions every day. Research shows that students who feel supported at school have lower rates of mental health concerns, suicidality, or at-risk behaviors, and that education and the modeling of acceptance by supportive adults decreases bullying and harassment. These areas of concern occur at a much higher rate for gender-expansive students. A recent report by the Human Rights Campaign found that 50% of students report being teased or bullied for either a real or perceived difference in gender or sexual identity and 28% of LGBTQ students report being threatened with physical violence at school. We know that inclusion and acceptance of diversity increases a positive school climate and decreases bullying for all students, not just those who may be targeted by harassment. Our OPUSD gender diversity lessons aim to create a safe and supportive school climate for all.
Why Parents Cannot Opt-Out of the K-5 Gender Diversity Program?
- The Gender Diversity Program was developed to help ensure a positive school climate so that all students feel safe on and off campus.
- This is not a curriculum, it is a social emotional program that was developed by our counseling team, comprised of credentialed educators who are uniquely trained in child development and social skills.
- California law only allows parents to opt-out (i.e., excuse their child from) of sex and HIV prevention education. (Education Code § 51938(b)(4).) Parents cannot opt-out of instruction about gender, gender identity or gender expression. (Education Code § 51932(b).)
- If the District allowed parents to opt-out, it could potentially increase the prevalence of gender-related bias, violence, bullying, and harassment.
How Can I Get More Information?
For specific information on the lesson for your student, click on the "OPUSD Gender Diversity Lessons by Grade" button above. We will also be sending this information home prior to the lesson taking place in your student’s classroom. OPUSD Parent Education evening was held on September 10th, at Oak Park High School Pavilion.
Explore the other resources and links on this page to learn more about gender diversity and how to support and include all students. The lesson plans and 5th grade book were updated on September 9, 2019.
For specific dates and times when the Gender Diversity lessons will be given at each elementary classroom K-5 please click on the button "Dates and Times of Gender Diversity Lessons at each Elementary School" above.
NOTE: Due to school closure, the lesson dates for Ms. Merfeld and Ms. Morrow's classes have been updated.