Minimize the Use of Gender Labels (Solution 9)

27 Oct

Let’s jump right into it shall we?
Solution 9: Minimize the Use of Gender Labels

Everything has a label, a name, a title….We need to know how to refer to things. I use hundreds when talking to my own kids: Honey, Sweetie, Baby, Lovie, Kiddo, Dude, Babe, Sweetheart, Sugar, Lamb……When I’m speaking to both of them I will sometimes say Girls or Ladies, but I don’t think I have ever said to just one child alone, “Um, girl…could you please put your dirty clothes in the basket?” That’d be weird, right? But in groups we often use gender as a label, and often when it really isn’t necessary.

By overusing “girls” and “boys” we send the message to kids that they are different and this difference is important. When you think about it, you would never address a group of people by calling out their religion, race, or ethnicity. But we very regularly say things like, “Good morning boys and girls.” Or, “Ladies and gentlemen, have a seat.” Now I’m not suggesting that these become “bad words,” I’m simply pointing out that there are a lot of other ways to grab the attention of others.

We can say things like, folks, kids or friends. I have one teacher friend who calls her students scholars (and they love it!), and another who refers to her group as the Shining Stars. Instead of having boys’ and girls’ lines, why not line-up according to shirt color or birthdays? *

Parents can get into the act too. Wouldn’t your child feel plenty proud hearing that he or she is a great kid or artist or friend? Specific praise is always more meaningful anyway. I once called my kids “finders” after they located my missing hairbrush – “Look at my awesome finders! Thank you so much!” They were so proud of themselves. Molly spent the rest of the morning asking what else I was missing so she and Gracie could go look for more stuff – “Do you need us to find anything else Mom?”

 There are tons of different ways to greet, instruct, address or speak to a group. What are some of your favorites?

*For more ideas and suggestions for minimizing the use of gender labels, follow this link to Creative Organization.


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