Schools in Alberta just got way more progressive.
New guidelines released by the provincial government attempt to end the old divides that saw students sorted into male and female gender roles. In other words, kids who go to school today will be treated dramatically differently than when you were in a classroom yourself.
Among many of the proposed changes, will be one that allows boys and girls to play on whichever sports team best “reflects their gender identity and expression.” In fact, schools should avoid altogether the practice of enforcing “gender-specific roles such as ‘boys’ versus ‘girls’ in academic, athletic or talent competitions,” the document reads.
Bathrooms and change rooms, meanwhile, are now also open to whatever student feels the facilities are “congruent with their gender identity.” Schools are also advised to provide at least one “non-gendered, single-stall washroom” for use by any student who wants extra privacy “regardless of the reason.”
Furthermore, teachers are advised to address students by whatever name and prefix they choose. Legal names, of course, will still be used on official transcripts and provincial assessments though.
“All individuals have the right to be addressed by their chosen name and to choose pronouns that align with their gender identity and/or gender expression,” the document states.
For many, these guidelines will be seen as liberating. Kids can play with whatever toy they want, be whoever they want and hang out with whatever groups best suit them, instead of clinging to the ones deemed “normal” by others. Of course, there are still critics. But it may be worth noting that the Canadian Psychological Association seems to agree that traditional gender roles aren’t for everyone.
“Being gender non-conforming is not a mental health problem. There is nothing wrong or harmful about having traits and behaving in ways that do not
conform to gender norms,” the association wrote in a statement unrelated to Alberta’s new guidelines. “It is important to remember that the idea of two opposite sexes may be a recent, Western idea. Recorded history includes many descriptions of people, from a range of cultures, who did not fit into the simple categories of male or female.”
“Theorists have suggested that it may be more appropriate to think of gender as lying on a continuum or having multiple categories.”
In essence, that is exactly what these new guidelines are aiming to do.
Way to go, Alberta!