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02 April 2009 @ 09:06 pm
Follow up on Z's Science Project  
Remember my nephew's science project, which so many of you very kindly took part in? (Seriously, almost a thousand responses. Professional surveys with monetary rewards often can't get that kind of response, people. You are awesome, and I thank you.)

Tonight was the night the science project results were revealed, at my nephew's school's open house, and my sister was supposed to take a picture so I could show all of you.

Except she couldn't. Because my nephew's project, alone among all of them, was not displayed. After much back and forth with various people, my sister learned that apparently some people were uncomfortable with his conclusions. Specifically the part where he said that what he really learned from this project was that some people don't want to be called boys or girls, and that those people need an "other" option. (And also that they tend to prefer blue to green.)

(This really has been a learning experience, and not just for Z, either. At my younger nephew's birthday party, Z was wandering around showing off his survey, and many of the older kids asked why he had included an "other" option for gender. Now, okay, you have to understand - Z is the kind of kid who, if you tell him you don't want to be called a boy or a girl, he will just kind of accept it. So you are other? Fine. People are mysterious anyway, and obviously this is just another layer of mysteriousness to them. He doesn't need to understand it to be okay with it.

Most of the other kids, though, found this concept fascinating and absolutely bewildering - obviously everyone is either a boy or a girl! Obviously! - and wanted to ask many many questions. Which was the point when my sister turned to me and said, "They're your friends. You explain it." You have not lived until you've tried to explain being genderqueer to a group of suburban elementary school students hyped up on cake and candy and penguins.)

So tomorrow my sister has to write an irritated letter to the principal, emphasizing that she wants Z's project - which also apparently was the only one to get graded twice, or possibly not graded at all; the story isn't clear - back, and she wants it considered for the district competition like all the other projects. And also that it's sad that the school missed the opportunity to show some genderqueer student or sibling or parent that, hey, you can have a different gender identification and still be considered and counted and included.

Anyway. Whether they give back the project or not, you'll still be able to see the results, because my nephew is nobody's fool and has a copy saved. But I still hope to be able to offer a picture of the poster, which is reportedly very nice.

In the meantime, I will be thinking about this: a concept that could be absorbed without distress by my nephew and a birthday party's worth of kids was just too scary and weird for some school official somewhere. It's a hard row you hoe, genderqueer people. I salute you! (And, parents, I think the take-home lesson here is: teach 'em early, while they're malleable. Or they might grow up to be narrow-minded educators.)
mardiamardia on April 3rd, 2009 04:24 am (UTC)
Wow, that is...both depressing and hopeful at the same time, if that makes any sense. The idea of those little kids being so curious and asking questions is kind of glee-inducing, in the sense that they're getting exposed to this early and getting exposed RIGHT, but the fact that the administrators at your nephew's school are apparently made of EPIC EPIC FAIL is not glee-inducing at ALL.
Grand High Supreme and Mighty Empress Connieconuly on April 5th, 2009 03:11 am (UTC)
Yes, this.
dodificusdodificus on April 3rd, 2009 04:24 am (UTC)
That is absolutely BULLSHIT. And I hope so much that your nephew isn't taking it badly.
What the Monkey?svilleficrecs on April 3rd, 2009 04:30 am (UTC)
High five to your sister and your nephew. It's a hard row to hoe for genderqueer people and their allies, but it's obviously more than worth the trouble.

(And as much as it sucks that his project was censored, am I wrong for being wildly amused at the thought of some random school admin scanning through all the "Oh look, plants like sunlight, surprise" projects, and promptly having their poor widdle head explode at the mere existance of something outside their understood binary.)
Sasha_feathersasha_feather on April 3rd, 2009 04:30 am (UTC)
Your nephew sounds SO cool. It's so sad and awful that they wouldn't display his poster!
no longer a wax-winged prodigy: Hath made me maddragojustine on April 3rd, 2009 04:31 am (UTC)
Wow. Hell of a story. The kids' reactions give me hope, and I'm glad your nephew has an adult who will stick up for him in this one (as well as adults who will teach him so well!)
zillah975 on April 3rd, 2009 04:32 am (UTC)
That's really interesting. I hope your sister succeeds, and that you'll keep us updated.

Also, your nephew sounds like an absolutely terrific kid.
i wasn't being awkward, that's just my face.belladonnalin on April 3rd, 2009 04:35 am (UTC)
I appreciate so much how you and your family step up and say "um, not so much."

I love that children are cool with it. That makes total sense to me.
(Deleted comment)
I'm not fluent in your dialect of crazydine on April 3rd, 2009 04:38 am (UTC)
I love how unfazed he was - it's amazing how accepting kids are, until 'grownups' get involved. I hope his project is properly displayed at the district competition; yay! to your sister for stepping in.
(Deleted comment)
scrollgirl: dcu woobie!bats thete1scrollgirl on April 3rd, 2009 04:41 am (UTC)
I kinda love how your little nephew is educating the educators. Or, hopefully they'll let themselves be educated. Go kid!
(Deleted comment)
Luce: [AB] we are the harmless sociopathslucia_tanaka on April 3rd, 2009 04:46 am (UTC)
That's infuriating and totally not surprising. :|

Send the wee nephew my support. Rock on, little boyo. ♥
lilacsigil: 12 Apostleslilacsigil on April 3rd, 2009 04:46 am (UTC)
Kids give me hope. Adults (outside your family) do not. Still, it's the 8 year rule - every election, 4 years worth of seniors have died and 4 years worth of kids have grown up enough to vote, so 8 years progress is made.
(Anonymous) on April 3rd, 2009 10:39 pm (UTC)
Not so sure
I could maybe accept 6.5 years, since people live longer and longer and those baby boomers are a big group. You would also have to factor in how many of those kids grew up enough to think for themselves. Math is complicated.
Re: Not so sure - lilacsigil on April 4th, 2009 12:54 am (UTC) (Expand)
senior deaths=progress - (Anonymous) on April 5th, 2009 08:53 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: senior deaths=progress - lilacsigil on April 5th, 2009 09:09 am (UTC) (Expand)
st_aurafinast_aurafina on April 3rd, 2009 04:49 am (UTC)
Your nephew and his willingness to view the world with an open mind = made of win. His school should listen and learn.
Vera: cool veracopracat on April 3rd, 2009 04:52 am (UTC)
What lucky kids Z and the earthling are, to have such a great family.
cathalincathalin on April 3rd, 2009 04:58 am (UTC)
I just... You have got to be *kidding* me. I mean, these are elementary school kids! For one thing, kids that age honestly don't usually care or notice the results of *other* kids' projects! They just care about their own.:) Probably, if they weren't ready for these concepts, they'd think "other" just meant alien or something anyway!

For another -- well, I don't need to explain why this is sad. :( I suppose not surprising, though, blergh. In slight defense of the school, often they are scared because of parents who've gone batshit on them in the past, which sadly happens too often. Still, they should have a backbone (or who knows, maybe it *is* the teacher or admins having their own issue with it). The kid did an awesome project -- that's what matters.

At a minimum, they should have contacted your sister and discussed this, omg, so her child (and her!) didn't have to come unprepared for the disappointment. Grrr -- that would *seriously* piss me off as a parent, now that I think about this further, having all the projects but my kid's displayed, and receiving no warning or explanation in advance. *Seriously*
jarrowjarrow on April 3rd, 2009 04:59 am (UTC)
Wow. As a trans person, thank you for speaking up on behalf of we "others." The world needs more people like you.
love fortified, love amplified: bubbly picklenineinchlovely on April 6th, 2009 03:57 pm (UTC)
Agreed! Everybody expects the transfolks to act on gender stupidity like this, but sometimes the voices that need to be heard are not ours. (Plus, it can be kind of exhausting to fight stuff all of the damn time!)
So, thanks!
You rule.
The Gauche in the Machine: goodbye pork piechina_shop on April 3rd, 2009 05:01 am (UTC)
You have not lived until you've tried to explain being genderqueer to a group of suburban elementary school students hyped up on cake and candy and penguins.

It's sentences like this that mean I will read your posts, whether you were writing on Dreamwidth or Mars. I salute you.
A Self-Made Manhugh_mannity on April 4th, 2009 01:00 pm (UTC)
Well, he wasn't hyped up on penguins, but he'd had some cake when my then 5-year old son asked what "gay" meant.

And I had to explain it to him in front of a roomfull of GLBT people. Every one of whom was waiting for me to put a foot wrong so they could remind me of it for years afterwards.

What did I say? Dead simple: "You know how people like to have a special boyfriend or girlfriend to cuddle with? Well if a boy is gay he'd rather have a boy as his special friend than a girl. If a girl would rather have a girl as her special friend she's called a lesbian. Some people don't really mind and have boyfriends or girlfriends, as long as they are special."

14 years later, is it any surprise that (a) my son is nominally bi and (b) a lot of his friends come to me with the "difficult" questions.
(no subject) - nineinchlovely on April 6th, 2009 03:58 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - hugh_mannity on April 6th, 2009 04:07 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Port: lady feetdesertport on April 3rd, 2009 05:01 am (UTC)
Echoing the people who say your nephew sounds awesome!

Also, as someone who will likely be an educator one day, this sort of situation makes me a little hesitant to consider K-12. All it takes is an administrator stomping down on efforts at inclusiveness and representation, and a student's project is disappeared or a teacher (as I've read too often) is let go. Not that I would want to let that stop me, but it does make one stop and think.
Greeking the Textlipsum on April 3rd, 2009 02:13 pm (UTC)
Injustices do happen, but sometimes the cool teachers win. My nephew's godfather (straight people know he's gay) teaches at the worst high school in the county. Not only are his students' scores propping up the rest of the school, he's won grants to start his own mini-school within the school, and is doing curriculum development with some of the other teachers.
Terry Karneypecunium on April 3rd, 2009 05:03 am (UTC)
Go him. Kids are really adaptable, and open. My housemate teaches 1st grade, and she has all sorts of strange things in the classroom; if you aske the parents. Scorpions, silkworms, a tarantula, a snake.

She show them the bugs on the roses, has a walking stick this year, takes them to see turtle and tadpoles and to fish for crawdads (in the turtle pond).

They eat it up.
The Stick Clickerifeedformula on April 3rd, 2009 08:50 pm (UTC)
When I was in 4th grade, we had to build little house-things and our teachers gave us some silkworms to take care of.

I was fine with it until the day mine decided to come ripping out of the coccoon and fly (as silk moths???) into my face.
(no subject) - pecunium on April 4th, 2009 10:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ifeedformula on April 5th, 2009 07:30 am (UTC) (Expand)
not so secretly sybariticallivrelibre on April 3rd, 2009 05:09 am (UTC)
And a little child shall teach them, indeed:) You and you family rock and hopefully the school will get its collective head out of its ass.
KRIM: brains?bitter_crimson on April 3rd, 2009 05:46 am (UTC)
I'm sadly not that surprised about the school official(s).

On the other hand, I'm still happy I was able to contribute to Z's project and his learning more about gender identities! It quite tickled me pink to be asked if I could be quoted for his project. And, that those kids at the birthday party were also not scared to learn about this... I think it's often like that. Even though many kids often have no sense of tact (heh, oh, how many pre-pubescent children have stared intently at me in bathrooms and then demanded to know whether I was a boy or a girl), they are willing to TALK about this stuff, and they always seem, amusingly, much more capable of either getting it or just accepting it without even getting it, than adults are.

It's a funny thing.

ETA: Oh, and I feel very bad for Z! I hope he was not too upset about the school official(s) mistreating him and his project like that. :(

Edited at 2009-04-03 05:47 am (UTC)
jamjarjamjar on April 3rd, 2009 05:55 am (UTC)
Oh, teacher!fail. Especially because they ignored science-project conclusions because they were uncomfortable with it (seriously! straightforward survey results!). What does that teach a kid about science?
Karen: Talkodditycollector on April 3rd, 2009 06:07 am (UTC)
they ignored science-project conclusions because they were uncomfortable with it (seriously! straightforward survey results!). What does that teach a kid about science?
Re: :\ - brown_betty on April 3rd, 2009 07:32 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: :\ - jamjar on April 3rd, 2009 12:18 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - meresy on April 3rd, 2009 02:54 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Screened comment)
mardiamardia on April 3rd, 2009 06:07 am (UTC)
Re: Project has been found!!!
It mysteriously reappeared AFTER open house was finished.

Okay, that is a load of crap. I'm glad your son isn't hurt or upset, but good grief, you are totally justified if/when you choose to rip a strip off the back of someone at that school. Not that I need to tell you this.
Re: Project has been found!!! - jamjar on April 3rd, 2009 12:30 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Project has been found!!! - foreverdirt on April 3rd, 2009 01:12 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Project has been found!!! - cereta on April 3rd, 2009 12:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Project has been found!!! - 2naonh3_cl2 on April 3rd, 2009 12:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Project has been found!!! - starfishchick on April 3rd, 2009 03:12 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Project has been found!!! - vito_excalibur on April 3rd, 2009 05:37 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Project has been found!!! - wendyzski on April 3rd, 2009 05:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)