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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.)
mardia 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_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.
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.
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!
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.