Lesson Planning – Minds On Activity for gender identity and sexual orientation
Explaining gender identity and sexual orientation to your students can be difficult. Where to begin? How do you introduce the topic? How do you make it personally relevant to all of your students? There is a great minds on activity to help students understand how societal and cultural expectations make it difficult to define gender identity and sexual orientation, and hopefully help students move away from many assumed binaries that exist in gender and sexuality.
1. Ask students to get into pairs.
2. If you have access to a projector and screen (or SMART board), place two images of two “opposing” objects, such as a camp fire and waterfall, or a beach and a snowy mountain (you can also print the two images and pass them around the room).
3. Tell students that they have one to two minutes to choose which image reflects them best overall. They then have two minutes each to share their reasoning for choosing the image with their partner.
4. After students share their image and reasoning with a partner, ask the class if anyone had difficulty choosing one image. Ask them why. (Most students will likely say that they felt that neither applied, or they related to both).
5. Explain that the two images are metaphors for gender and sexuality binaries we often use in our day-to-day understanding of gender and sexuality. Oftentimes, we have to “choose” to identify as either male or female (e.g. medical forms, washrooms). Also, when we think about sexuality/sexual orientation, the two most “commonly” discussed orientations is straight and gay/lesbian. There is a huge spectrum of gender identity and sexuality/sexual orientation. Just like choosing an image to describe oneself, people sometimes have a hard time defining which gender and/or sexual identity suits them – sometimes one fits perfectly well, sometimes multiple identities apply, and sometimes they change over time.
Relevant specific expectations from the Ontario’s Health and Physical Education curricula
Grade 6: C1.3 identify factors that affect the development of a person’s self-concept (e.g., environment, evaluations by others who are important to them, stereotypes, awareness of strengths and needs, social competencies, cultural and gender identity, support, body image, mental health and emotional well-being, physical abilities)
Grade 8: C1.5 demonstrate an understanding of gender identity (e.g., male, female, two-spirited, transgender, transsexual, intersex), gender expression, and sexual orientation (e.g., heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual), and identify factors that can help individuals of all identities and orientations develop a positive self-concept
Grade 9: C1.5 demonstrate an understanding of factors (e.g., acceptance, stigma, culture, religion, media, stereotypes, homophobia, self-image, self-awareness) that can influence a person’s understanding of their gender identity (e.g., male, female, two-spirited, transgender, transsexual, intersex) and sexual orientation (e.g., heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual), and identify sources of support for all students
Grade 10: C3.4 describe some common misconceptions about sexuality in our culture, and explain how these may cause harm to people and how they can be responded to critically and fairly
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