Course:SSED317/Gender and Sexuality

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Our Group: Amber, Andrew, Daniel, Kelly, Jen, Megan

Home Page: wiki link to SSED 317


What is Gender?

by Jen McLean

The dictionary definition of gender is "the distinguishing form or forms being used," "the condition of being female or male," and "sexual identity, especially in relation to society or culture." Gender used to be used to refer to mere grammatical categories of masculine or feminine, but in recent years the term has much more complex connotations. For example, anthropologists today use the term sex to describe biological categories, and use gender when speaking of social or cutlural categories. In essence, sex is said to be biologically determined, but gender, and most importantly gender roles, is a social construct and constantly subject to change and debate whether on a collective level or an individual one.


What is Gender Equity?


The definition of gender equity is an extremely contentious issue in schools today. While most educators agree that gender equity should be incorporated into their classrooms and curriucla, there is no one right way to acheive this. One perspective advocates the sameness approach, in which “males and females participate in the same courses of study and extracurricular activities to the same degree, their achievement is the same, they are treated the same by their teachers, and they are prepared for the same societal roles” (Grossman, 119). Proponents of this approach claim that highlighting gender differences is harmful to students since it essentially promotes traditional gender roles. Instead, teachers should prepare their students for androgynous roles, “which are not limited by labels” and “allow people to feel free to express the best traits of men and women” (Grossman, 123). In addition, females especially benefit from this approach as they are more prepared for a job market in which men and women increasingly compete for the same jobs. Finally, teachers who use this approach should encourage students to be aware of sexism in our society and do what they can to change it.

Other educators argue that gender equity should promote fairness, rather than sameness. In this approach, males and females are given the opportunity to enrol in the course they prefer, are treated in accordance with their individual needs and are prepared for different societal roles (Grossman, 119). Essentially, the fairness approach assumes that biological differences between the two genders is relevant to educational practice and should be considered when addressing students’ individual needs. Proponents of this approach claim that students learn better, have fewer behavioural problems and experience less disparity between contrasting expectations. For example, many students are expected to adhere to certain roles as part of their family, culture or community and may feel conflicted participating in an educational system that perhaps promotes more androgynous roles. In addition, some educators feel that treating all students the same is harmful, as it completely ignores the physiological differences between males and females. In essence, gender should be included when we address different learning styles. Clearly, each of these approaches has their strengths and weaknesses; however, the real question is which will be the most beneficial to our own students?

Source: Grossman, H. & Grossman, S.H. Gender Issues in Education. Needham Heights, Massachusetts: Allyn & Bacon, 1994.


How to incorporate gender equity into the curriculum and the classroom? Here is one idea:

by Jen McLean

The Miss_G Project for Equity in Education is an Ontario-based lobby group begun in 2005, in which members (which largely consist of educators) began looking for a change in Ontario's curriculum to include a Women and Gender Studies course for Grade 11 and 12 students. Its founders, Sheetal Rawal and Sarah Ghabrial, were students at the University of Western Ontario when they started to wonder why it was only in niversity that a student could have the opportunity to study gender issues, despite the fact that high school is a "hot bed" of gender stratification and other forms of social injustice. The proposed course would give its students the chance to critically analyize gender constructions and relations, and examine how women have been discriminated against and silenced by traditional curricula. In essence, the curriculum here --is-- the curriculum, in which students can critique for themselves the shortcomings of public schooling in regard to gender equity. The course would also aim to "make explicit the implicit," and deconsruct the messages about gender that adolescents are bombarded with everyday, whether in the hallways, at home or in the media. Finally, the course would be designed to give students some agency with this issue and explore solutions as to how to more successfully incorporate gender equity into their schools and their communities in general. Unfortunately, this course has yet to be approved by the Ontario Ministry of Education. For more information on the Miss_G Project, visit

Source: Miller, Michelle. "Coming of Age: The fight for an all-inclusive gender studies curriculum." From Our Schools, Our Selves, 17:1 (Fall 2007): pp. 85- 91.

The following are some other resources about incorporating gender studies and gender equity into the classroom and the curriculum:

White, B. Are Girls Better Readers than Boys? Which Boys? Which Girls?. Canadian Journal of Education v. 30 no. 2 (2007) p. 554-81

Owen, H. Beyond the Flapper: The Problem of "Snapshot" History. Organization of American Historians Magazine of History v. 21 no. 3 (July 2007) p. 35-7


What is Sexuality?


by Jen McLean

Like gender, the word sexuality can be connoted by several different meanings. The dictionary definition includes "possession of the functional and structural traits of sex," "recognition of or emphasis on sexual matters," "involvement in sexual activity," or "an organism's preparedness for engaging in sexual activity." Despite the fact that sexuality is everywhere and simply a part of humanity, the issue is often deemed too taboo to address in a public school setting. However, in our sexualized society where adolescents are exposed to images and messages about "what's normal" all the time, as educators it is crucial that we incorporate learning about sexuality and LGBT issues in both the curriculum and in a classroom managment sense for the benefit of our students and their well-being.


The following are some resources about how to address sexuality in the social studies classroom and some ideas on incorporating LGBT issues into the curriculum:

Martinson, D. L. Sex, Pornography, and the Mass Media: How Should Social Studies Teachers Respond?. The Social Studies (Washington, D.C.) v. 98 no. 2 (March/April 2007) p. 43-7

Ashcraft, C. "Girl, You Better Go Get You a Condom": Popular Culture and Teen Sexuality As Resources for Critical Multicultural Curriculum. Teachers College Record v. 108 no. 10 (October 2006) p. 2145-86

In the Classroom

by Megan Schmidt

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth are a particularly vulnerable group in our schools; a fact that needs to be addressed. While there has been a slow, yet growing sense of LGBT acceptance among Canadian youth, there is still much to be addressed. Evidence suggests that LGBT youth are more likely than their counterparts to have emotional and behavioral difficulties as well as symptoms of depression. Also, they are more likely to demonstrate poorer physical and mental health than others, they tend to live in more hostile peer environments and are more likely to be the victims of bullies and sexual harassment. Furthermore, LGBT youth generally receive less support from families and peer groups, they are more likely to drop out from high school. On an extreme level, these youth make up 17% of the homeless youth and they are more likely to demonstrate risk behaviors such as substance abuse (drugs and alcohol), unsafe sex, and suicide. Many youth who are still ‘in the closet’ are stuck between a rock and a hard place or double bind. While they need to come out to get emotional support and to make sense of their lives, if they do come out they are more prone to victimization. A gay high school said when asked what was the hardest thing about being different was the, “loneliness-feeling that you are all by yourself and that you have no one to confide in, or be friends with. Living a lie is both physically and mentally damaging”. These individuals are already dealing with the typical stresses of being adolescents, but their stress is compounded due to their sexuality. No child should be put through such hardships.


  • Jennings, K. (2006). ‘Out’ in the Classroom: Addressing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender issues in Social Studies Curriculum. In E. Ross (Eds.), The Social Studies Curriculum (pp.255-282). Albany: State University of New York Press.
  • Robertson, H. (2007). Under the Rainbow. Our Schools, Our Selves, 16(4). Retrieved

November 19, from CBCA Education Database.

Lesson Plans and Ideas

Lesson Plans

added by Megan Schmidt

(For Gender and Sexuality)

  • Introduction to Gender Identity and Gender Expresssion[1]
    • A lesson to increase awareness of and empathy for people who are transgender.
  • Introduction to Sexual Orientation [2]
    • A lesson plan to learn about issues faced by gay, lesbian, bisexual, and questioning people and to promote acceptance and respect for all people irrespective of their sexual orientation.
  • Introduction to Sexuality[3]
    • A lesson plan to introduce the concept of sexuality and provide an opportunity to identify messages about sexuality.
  • Gender Stereotypes and Body Image[4]
    • A lesson to help make students aware of the dangers of gender stereotyping and the media's role in perpetuating gender stereotypes.
  • Exposing Gender Steretypes[5]
    • The objective of this lesson is to encourage students to develop their own critical intelligence with regard to culturally inherited stereotypes, and to the images presented in the media - film and television, rock music, newspapers and magazines. In this lesson students take a look at their own assumptions about what it means to be a man, and what it means to be a woman. The brainstorming and discussion sessions are meant to encourage them to ask gender-specific questions as a step in the self-reflective process. Students will begin to see how believing in stereotypes can lead to violence towards oneself and others.

added by Daniel and Andrew

  • The Price of Happiness: On Advertising, Image, and Self Esteem [6]
    • This is a lesson on advertisement as a social means of exposing youth to gender roles, image and identity. This is great as a means to give students an opportunity to critically assess these social issues.
  • Female Action Heroes [7]
    • This lesson addresses the issues of gender equity and roles in media. The focus would be on a younger audience and the way women are portrayed as heroes.
  • Advertising and Male Violence [8]
    • This lesson highlights the way men are portrayed in advertising as tough and violent. These male archetypes have effects on perpetuating gender roles and what it means to be a man. The lesson gives the teacher a forum for looking at social issues that relate to the students everyday lives.

Lesson ideas

added by Megan S.


As women are not seen as an importance presence in the social studies curriculum, we have to come up with ways to include them in historical accounts and acknowledging their experiences, thoughts and contributions. Following is a list of ways in which women could be incorporated in to the Social Studies experience:

Memoirs: Sources could be other family members, friends of the individual, the tombstone, letters, journal entries, recipes, photographs, or bibles.

Textbook Analysis: Omissions as well as the way they are portrayed when present. Sample questions: Are women visible both in the pictures and in the written content of the text?, Are the present in numbers which seem reasonable considering the content of the text?, Are women and girls shown in a variety of roles?, Are women shown as contributing in important ways to their community, their employer, their family?, Are females of all ages depicted?, Are females and males shown in mutually supportive relationships?

Supplementary textbook passages: Rewrite a passage as if the author’s had taken women’s perspectives and contributions into account.

Surveys: get the students to keep track of the amount of domestic work is done in their home, and by whom.

Women’s Perspective: incorporate the data of the event you are studying in ways that demonstrate to the students that this information is as important as the information about men. Make it a part of the understandings.

Source: Turner, J. and P. Clark (1999). Move Over Buster: Women and Social Studies. In R. Case and P. Clark (Eds.) The Canadian Anthology of Social Studies (pp104-105). Vancouver: Pacific Education Press.

More Lesson ideas

added by Amber Rainkie

Addressing the Legal Side of Homosexuality: One way of taking a 'neutral' approach to the topic of homosexuality to address it through the eyes of government and lawmaking. This can easily be integrated in Civics 11, Social Justice 12, and Law 12 - especially during the 'how a bill gets passed bit'. There are opportunities to address this in Socials 11 as well.

Subjects that would be discussed would include:

BC's Social Justice 12: A Step in the Right Direction?

by Jen McLean

Social Justice 12 was just introduced this year (2008) as an elective in the British Columbia curriculum. Its goal is to raise students' awareness of social injustice, give students the opportunity to analyze events and issues through social justice lens, and provide them with the skills and knowledge necessary to become advocates for social justice themselves. The Prescribed Learning Outcomes include gender and sexuality topics, such as diversity, equality, human rights, sex and sexual orientation, and the role played by Canadian legislation in either promoting or not promoting social justice within these issues.

However, not everyone agrees that such a course should be offered, as illustrated by the subsequent banning of the course in the Abbotsford School District earlier this year:

Interview with Cindy Schafer

interview date Monday Sept 22, 2008 (at 12:37pm)

Interview about Abbotsford School District Decision to ban Social Justice 12 with a chair of the board of education/school trustee representative from the District, Cindy Schafer

Cindy Schafer's message

A contrast account to the previous radio interview.

'Thoughts on Social Justice 12'

by Kelly G.

Social Justice 12 has been making headlines since its introduction, perhaps because of the controversial content but more likely because two gay men were instrumental in its creation. Perhaps if it was created by the Ministry of Education based on their own initiative and awareness that something was lacking in the curriculum then there would have been less outcry in certain school districts. But what if you're teaching in a conservative area? We have been talking about our positionality and understanding what bias we bring into the classroom, and further, how to be culturally sensitive when we encounter students and parents with differing ideologies? Does respecting religion fall under this category? If so, are we required to 'bite our tongues' and accept that not everyone will feel the same when it comes to learning about homosexuality? It's very easy to offend!! Just something to think about. One other point to make about Social Justice 12 is that it could very easily become the 'other' class, as in we don't have to address racism and homophobia because they talk about it in that 'other' class. Social Justice still needs to be addressed in every class and Social Studies teachers need to be sure they subtly and overtly incorporate these themes in everyday curriculums.

For the complete Integrated Resource Package for Social Justice 12, visit

Useful Websites

  • Out in Schools [9]
  • Gay and Lesbian Educators of BC (GALE BC) [10]
  • Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) [11]
  • Rethinking Schools [12]

In The Media

Complied by Kelly G.

These can be used for your own information - or even better, have a CURRENT EVENTS unit focus on gender and sexuality discrimination in Canada that allows students to research just how often these topics are covered by various Medias.

  • "Same-sex education is important, but it will take time"
    • Globe and Mail - Gary Mason, September 27, 2008
      • "When a same-sex couple from B.C. agreed to drop its human-rights complaint against the provincial government two years ago - in exchange for an unprecedented role in drafting curriculum in part aimed at educating students about sexual orientation - reaction was mixed."

For Full Article Visit: [13]

  • Teen Pregnancy Linked to Sexy TV
    • A study found that TV shows such as Gossip Girl and 90210 are actually linked to higher rates of teen pregnancy.

For Full Article Visit: [14]

  • Mr. Gay World to be crowned in Whistler
    • Question - Serving Whistler and Pemberton - November 13, 2008
      • "After the successful Mr. Gay Canada competition was held in Whistler in September, organizers announced this week the resort will host the first annual Mr. Gay World competition in February during the annual gay ski week, WinterPRIDE."
  • Acceptance has its limits, Gays and lesbians find:Assault on Oshawa mothers a sign that not all Canadians tolerant of same-sex couples
    • The Toronto Star - November 18, 2008
      • "Canadians aren't as tolerant as we'd like to be. Gays and lesbians in Canada still face harassment or violence, experts say in the wake of a recent assault."

For Full Article Visit: [15]

VIDEO LINK - Interview with the Victims: [16]

  • Canada loses ground in key areas of gender equality
    • Globe and Mail - November 13, 2008
      • Canada's gender gap seems to be widening. A new report reveals that Canada has lost significant ground in key areas of gender equality, dropping the country's overall global ranking by 13 places. For the first time since the annual survey was started three years ago, Canada ranks below the United States in terms of how well the country is closing its gender gap.

For Full Article Visit: [17]

  • Loud, Queer, And Apparently Unstoppable
    • SEE Magazine - November 13, 2008
      • “A negative experience with being queer galvanizes the community,” starts Darrin Hagen, clearly and calmly. “It doesn’t seem like it at the time. Coming through something like that, whether it’s homophobia, gay-bashing, a politician badmouthing your community or Ralph Klein standing up and stamping his chubby foot saying he refuses to allow gay marriage... Every time the gay community or the queer community gets through something like that, we become stronger.”

For Full Article Visit: [18]

  • Accusations of gender discrimination 'inappropriate': VANOC
    • The Metro - November 19, 2008
      • "The International Olympic Committee once again defended its decision to keep women's ski jumping out of the 2010 Olympics, saying yesterday it’s inappropriate to suggest gender discrimination plays any role."

For Full Article Visit: [19]


Suggested by Kelly G.


  • Anyone and Everyone. Susan Schutz (2007) (Staff/PAC resource, parents talk about their gay kids) 57min
  • In Other Words. NFB (2001) (Gr7-11, homophobia) 27min
  • It's Elementary. Debra Chasnoff (2004) (Gr5-12, staff, PAC, talking gay issues in school) 37min
  • Let's Get Real. Debra Chasnoff (2003) (Gr 7-12, all types of bullying, name-calling) 35min
  • It's Elementary: Talking About Gay Issues in School (available in Education Library ... Recommmended by Wayne Ross)

Picture Books (Fun for All Ages)

  • ABC A Family Alphabet Book by Bobbie Combs
  • All Families are Special by Norma Simon
  • And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson
  • Antonio's Card by Rigoberto Gonzalez
Tn boy who cried fabulous.jpg
  • Belinda's Boquet by Michael Willhoite
  • The Boy Who Cried Fabulous by Leslea Newman
  • Families by Todd Parr
  • Felicia's Favourite Story by Leslea Newman
  • It's OK to be Different by Todd Parr
  • King and King by Linda de Haan
  • Molly's Family by Nancy Garden
  • The Sissy Duckling by Harvey Fierstein
  • We Belong Together by Todd Parr

Books for Intermediate Students

  • Absolutely, Positively Not by David LaRochelle
  • Box Girl by Sarah Withrow
  • The Case of the Stolen Scarab by Nancy Garden
  • A Clear Spring by Barbara Wilson
  • The Harvey Milk Story by Kari Krakow
  • Holly's Secret by Nancy Garden
  • Zack's Story by Keith Greenberg

Readings from Class

From text

Crocco, M. S. (2006). Gender and social education: What’s the problem? In E. W. Ross (Ed.), The social studies curriculum (3rd Ed., pp., 171-193). Albany: State University of New York Press.

Jennings, K. (2006). ’Out’ in the classroom: Addressing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues in social studies curriculum. In E. W. Ross (Ed.), The social studies curriculum (3rd Ed., pp., 255-264). Albany: State University of New York Press.

Short Review ... (Kelly G.) I urge everyone to take 10 minutes to read the Kevin Jennings article. It’s short and to the point and best of all offers new teachers like ourselves not only compelling reasons to include LGBT issues in the curriculum but concrete ways to do so. Besides incorporating some interesting statistics on LGBT and the Text Book, Jennings offers a poignant criticism on the current ways these issues are included in the classroom. Namely an overall pattern of “omission, inaccuracy and bias” (p257). He also seemed to read my mind as I was going through the article. Just as I questioned one of his points, wouldn’t you know it, the next paragraph addressed my very concerns. Specifically, how exactly to include LGBT into regular curriculum, as in, do you really want me to casually mention “Oh, by the way, J. Edgar Hoover was a homosexual.” Isn’t that just “add LGBT and stir" and besides, we don’t mention every time a historical figure is heterosexual? Answer … Heterosexism, “the unconscious assumption that everyone is heterosexual unless it is otherwise explicitly stated.” (259). Of course, not sure why I didn’t think of that before.

It’s all too easy for teachers to say, we have a GSA at our school, or post an anti-homophobia sign in the classroom or even, that our school offers Social Justice 12 and think that satisfies the LGBT component for teaching for social justice. The point is that yes, those create awareness and hopefully acceptance of sexual orientation and inclusion but they do not equip LGBT students with historical figures they can identify with or highlight the past struggles of LGBT individuals. By studying these issues with students, teachers can help create a sense of self-worth for LGBT youth and a positive identity that fits into “normal” categories rather than always being something different or devious or something that needs it’s own special day or group for study. LGBT issues are such a part of our society and it’s about time it’s part of the curriculum too.


Loutzensheiser, L. (2004). The body and sexuality in curriculum. In E. W. Ross & K. D. Vinson (Eds.), Defending public schools: Curriculum continuity and change in the 21st Century (pp. 133-147). Westport, CT: Praeger.

Additional Websites

War and Gender

Added by Andrew and Daniel

The process of war is highly gendered through a masculine lens, although this perspective can change depending on how one analyzes the`experience of war. Below are some sources to consider when teaching the 'Great Wars' in your social studies classes. One of the Boys, Homosexuality in the Military During World War 2[20]

How to read gender in War [21]

Movie Gendered Media[22]

Also some interesting figures in the history of gender/sexuality

Magnus Hirschfeld[23] Michel Foucault [24] Dona Haraway [25] Simone de Beauvoir [26] Judith Butler [27] Steven Smith [28]

Video Clips">'Cosmopolitan' Institute Completes Decades-Long Study On How To Please Your Man

CBC - Gems in the Archives

Kelly G.

The following are fantastic resources from CBC. Search Digital Archives at for more. These can be used as Primary Sources for Social Studies Students (especially Grade 11-12 Curriculum) or to introduce ideas of Gender and Sexuality in the classroom. A great way to see how activism started and the road gender equality has taken.


1959 TV Clip - "A Psychiatric Problem" - CBC Digital Archives[29]

1979 TV Clip - "Backlash Against Gays" - CBC Digital Archives[30]

1976 TV Clip - "Fired Because He's Gay" - CBC Digital Archives[31]


1973 TV Clip - "Man Alive: Teen and Gender Roles" - CBC Digital Archives[32]

1946 Radio Broadcast - "Feminine Curves are Back" - CBC Digital Archives[33]

1950 Radio Broadcast - "Citizen's Forum: The Male-Female Wage Gap" - CBC Digital Archives[34]

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