'Genderbread' tackles gender issues for elementary school kids
Grade 8 students using gingerbread cutout to inform school kids about gender issues
Albert Einstein once said, "if you can't explain a concept to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself."
Angela Plaunt, a teacher at Sir James Dunn elementary school in Wawa, Ont., has been approaching gender issues in a unique way. She has incorporated "The Genderbread Person"— a gingerbread, gender-free cutout— into her lessons on human sexuality.
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The idea came to a couple of her Grade 8 students while at a conference about sexual abuse. Once they heard about Genderbread Person, they were curious to see if it would work once they brought it back to their school.
Plaunt hopes that by using a character familiar to most kids, the gingerbread man, they can approach complex issues in a simple, straightforward way, and start thinking of gender as something beyond sexuality.
"We display Genderbread Person on the overhead, then talk about how this is a cookie," Plaunt said. "We all know the gingerbread man, we've all decorated one and put it on the Christmas tree."
"Then we say it doesn't really have a set gender. And that even if it did, that doesn't determine its sexuality."
Breaking down gender's components
Plaunt uses Genderbread to break the issues down into several components: identity, attraction, sex and expression.
"Your brain [is] what tells you what to identify with— I'm a man or a woman, boy or girl," Plaunt said. "And your heart is your expression of love, and if you express that in a masculine or feminine way."
"Your genitalia is what determines your sex, and your expression of gender is the outward expression— how you dress, or if you put makeup on."