Email from a 5th grade teacher to parents at our local public school (soon to occupy the most expensive, per-student, building ever constructed in the United States):
Just wanted to reach out to tell you about the conversation we had in class today. Our middle school (grades 5-8) has a group called SAGA that meets weekly. SAGA stands for “Sexuality and Gender Alliance.” Today was the first meeting of the year.
In preparing the kids for possibly joining SAGA, our conversation centered around LGBTQ+ vocabulary and terms. I am attaching the vocabulary list that was used with the students. These definitions come from Welcoming Schools. It was a good conversation and the students have a lot of great knowledge already!
The attachment (below) uses the phrase “Who you love” (contrast to Barack Obama: “No matter who you are or whom you love, celebrate #Valentines Day with pride. #LoveIsLove”). Also note that, presumably due to recent definitional problems with the word “woman”, “Gay” and “Lesbian” have the same definition. Finally, I wonder if defining “Sexual Orientation” (Merriam-Webster) by “Who you love” will cause some confusion, even if one accepts that “who” can be used for the object of a verb. Fifth graders are familiar with parents who love children. They may also be familiar with children or adults who love a dog and a dog who loves human family members. Can the fifth grader now assume that the dog is sexually oriented toward human family members or that a parent is sexually oriented toward children who are loved? If “love” and sexuality are equivalent, does that make the fifth grader’s world simpler or more complex?
[Attached] LGBTQ Vocabulary Words
Words associated with gender, gender identity, gender expression and sexuality
Cisgender: When your gender identity (how you feel) is the same as what doctors/midwives assigned to you when you were born (girl/boy or sex assigned at birth).
Gender: How you feel. Your internal felt sense of being a girl, boy, both or neither.
Gender Binary: A way of seeing gender as two distinct and opposite groups—girl and boy. This idea doesn’t include all the ways we can have a gender identity and express our gender.
Gender Expansive: Some people feel that the traditional ways of being a “boy” or “girl” do not fit for them. They live their lives showing that there are many ways to be a girl, boy, both or neither.
Gender Identity: How you feel. Girl, boy, both or neither. Everyone has a gender identity.
Non-Binary: People who do not feel like the words “girl” or “boy” fits. They may feel like both or neither. They sometimes use pronouns such as they, them, theirs.
Sex Assigned At Birth: When a baby is born, a doctor or midwife looks at the baby’s body/anatomy and says they are a boy, girl or intersex.
Transgender or Trans: When your gender identity (how you feel) is different than what doctors/midwives assigned to you when you were born (girl/boy or sex assigned at birth).
WHO YOU LOVE:
Bisexual: People who love or are attracted to people of two genders.
Gay: People who love or are attracted to people of the same gender.
Heterosexual: People who love or are attracted to other people of the opposite gender.
Lesbian: People who love or are attracted to people of the same gender.
Sexual Orientation: Who you love or are attracted to.
GENDER AND WHO YOU LOVE:
LGBTQ: Acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer.
Queer: People use this word as a way to identify with and celebrate people of all gender identities and all the ways people love each other. When used in a mean way, it is a word that hurts.
Update: During a minivan ride a few months after the above material was delivered, the 5th grader announced from the middle seat, apropos of nothing, “One of my [10-year-old] classmates is a lesbian.” A small 6-year-old voice was heard from the very back: “What’s a lesbian?”