Sexual liberation and the rejection of ideas of conservatism have led to a more inclusive society regarding sexual and affective diversity. This reality is everywhere: at work, in the streets, at school, etc.
For example, to fulfill the needs of this new reality, many professionals working with children wonder how affective diversity can be talked about in the classroom. Is it something children should learn early on?
In addition, children are now more aware of their sexuality and that there can be heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, and trans people at school. Acceptance is important for equality and respect, no matter their sexual preferences, race, origins, or gender.
Do children understand their sexuality?
Sexual and affective diversity subjects aren’t present in most classrooms. Likewise, parents that lack information fear that talking about this diversity will “turn” their children homosexual, bisexual, or trans.
Although some parents don’t understand this, children start identifying the people they’re attracted to by the age of ten. Psychologist Asia Eaton, reveals that a sexual minority of young adults had their first sexual attraction by age eight or nine. Other studies suggest this happens by age 11. In fact, child masturbation or sexual exploration can happen at age two.
Thus, as children ask themselves what they like and don’t, it’s important to add sexual and affective diversity to the school syllabus. This will be useful, not only to children of a sexual minority, but also for everybody. Information is a powerful tool to fight against hate, fear, abuse, and rejection.
How to include affective diversity in a classroom?
Affective diversity is already in schools, but it’s seen in a negative light. Schools reflect the popular ideology and heterosexist language. You can see this when people joke about a homosexual person, when others use derogatory terms in recess and don’t get punished, and when every example of marriage couples are of heterosexual people.
In conclusion, the behavior and ignorance from parents and teachers can lead children to the wrong conclusion, an unhealthy view of LGTBIQ children, issues with self-esteem, and self-acceptance.
For example, here are a few dynamic measures to use in classrooms with affective diversity:
- Get all workers in the school to work towards the same goal. Certainly, children learn by watching and doing, and their role models can be the school’s cook, gardener, teachers, or nurses.
- Including affective diversity in the school’s syllabus.
- Including didactic activities about homosexuality, bisexuality, transsexualism, and phobia to those sexual conditions.
- Improving the information, education, and guidance of the teachers and school council.
- Including informative content in the library, and also works that reflect different types of relationships, not only heterosexual relationships.
- Establishing an active measures guide for homophobia, transphobia, or biphobia. Let the teachers and the students and their parents understand that that type of behavior isn’t allowed in the classroom, as it shouldn’t be on the streets.
Teacher, I like girls, not boys
Many times, teachers become a reference, not only in school but also in the child’s personal view. Thus, these professionals can be the first and only to know the child’s true sexual identity.
Sometimes, children feel they’ll disappoint their parents, that they can get angry, and feeling different or strange can make them feel their teacher is the only one they can trust.
What can the teacher do in this case? Here are a few tips:
- Actively listen and understand their anxiety and stress. Even though the teacher is busy, this is an important matter. Value their courage and give them your time. This is an important subject for them and it should be for you too.
- If the teacher isn’t prepared or doesn’t know how to act, take them to someone that does. This is an important subject and you can’t turn your back on them.
- Become their ally. A teacher is an authority figure, someone that can punish or reward. It’s relevant to the child because they see they’re not being punished and that they haven’t been betrayed. This sets a good precedent for the child to understand that their sexual orientation isn’t bad, it just is.
- See how they’re doing in school and this will give you a clue as to how they’re feeling.
- You, as their reference, are in favor of affective diversity. You’re the first person who validates how they feel and will react unexpectedly for the child: you won’t be angry, sad, or disappointed.
In conclusion: the need for a transversal change
Including affective diversity in the classroom is something that should happen in every school. Including a couple of workshops about affective diversity in the syllabus isn’t enough. Schools should be a place of acceptance for all its students.
Thus, language must change, avoiding stereotypes about a sexual collective and dealing with these things in a natural way. Besides, it’s a good thing to do activities that aren’t only theoretical, but educational. These activities make students participate and keep their motivation high.
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