Supporting gender expansive, transgender and non-binary youth in Berkeley public schools
How does GISA work?
The Gender Inclusive Schools Alliance (GISA) is a network of families who meet 4-6 times per year to share experiences and support the district’s efforts to create gender inclusive schools. We are connected through a Google group – contact firstname.lastname@example.org to join.
What are Gender Inclusive Schools?
Gender inclusive schools celebrate gender diversity and recognize that gender impacts ALL students. They question limited portrayals of gender and interrupt binary notions of gender, supporting self-reflection and teaching empathy and respect. According to BUSD regulations, “the goal is to ensure the safety, comfort, and healthy development of all students, including transgender students, maximizing inclusion and social integration while minimizing exclusion and stigmatization.” If you are interested in supporting your school to be more gender inclusive, find more information HERE.
What laws and policies support this work?
In December 2013, Berkeley Unified adopted Board Policy (BP 5157) and Administrative Regulations (AR 5157) for Gender Identity and Access.
California and federal law (Cal. Ed. Code § 220 and Title IX, 20 U.S.C. § 1681) also require that all programs, activities, and employment practices be conducted without discrimination based on, among other things, actual or perceived gender identity, gender expression, gender, or sexual orientation. California Education Code § 201 further provides that public schools have an affirmative obligation to combat bias, and a responsibility to provide equal educational opportunities to all pupils.
On February 24, 2017, Board President and Superintendent issued this statement protecting transgender students.
What is the Gender Diversity Curriculum and Resource Guide?
This guide, written and compiled by three Berkeley teachers, provides a series of ten lessons about gender diversity, inspired by and linking to the work of Gender Spectrum, Welcoming Schools, Teaching Tolerance, and many others. Lessons 1 through 4 celebrate diversity and individuality, expand possibilities for personal expression and explore gender stereotypes. Lessons 5 through 8 introduce the dimensions of gender and explore gender diversity in books, personal stories, and role models. A sample lesson can be found HERE. Lessons 9 and 10 support ally behavior and introduce ally role models. Each lesson includes a 40-60 minute sequence with two or three 15-30 minute parts, often including key terminology and more-in depth discussion prompts. Lesson elements can be modified or split over a few days, but it is recommended that they be implemented in the order presented.
A supportive school climate is a key element to successful implementation of these lessons. At the end of the guide, there are additional resources for creating a more gender inclusive climate in the classroom and school, as well as resources for supporting individual students and families.