HRC’s ‘Gender Inclusive Classrooms’ Guide: Say ‘Friends’ or ‘Students’ Instead of Girls and Boys

To help “create a classroom where students aren’t limited based on gender stereotypes,” teachers should address classes using words like “friends or “students” rather than girls and boys, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) advises in a new back-to-school guide.

The first tip suggested by the HRC’s Welcoming Schools Initiative is for teachers to avoid using gender to “divide and address students.” The guide claims that separating students for activities according to gender “can leave some students feeling out-of-place, making them distracted or isolated and not able to focus on learning.”

The guide recommends finding new, inventive ways of dividing students for activities. “When lining students up for lunch, rather than saying, ‘Girls line up first,’ try saying, ‘Anyone wearing a green shirt can line up,’ or ‘If your name has an E please line up.’”

The guide also advises teachers to “prepare for teachable moments” linking to suggested responses for questions that might come up in class such as: “How can a family have two moms [dads]? Which one is the real one?” and “Don’t you need a woman and a man to have a baby?”