Gender and Sexual Orientation: Fostering Inclusivity Among Children

Guest Blog Author!

Written by Ally Andrew-Persaud

In the time we live in, there is so much to learn and know about gender and sexual orientation. This can get overwhelming at times, especially when we are trying to make environments as inclusive as possible for people. Even as a queer woman myself writing this, I find myself always learning new things about gender and sexual orientation. As occupational therapists, a goal of ours is to help create and advocate for inclusive environments for everyone. Teaching kids about sexual orientation and gender is one part of creating an inclusive environment for all starting at a young age.

While many people probably started learning about gender and sexual orientation at a later age (personally I didn’t start learning about it until high school), kids now start being exposed to the concepts of gender and sexual orientation at a much younger age. Not only is it through the media, but families are starting to look different than they did before. Kids are becoming exposed to many different types of families at a younger age. With this earlier exposure to concepts of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, it is almost unavoidable that kids will be asking questions and wanting to learn more. Kids are inherently curious.

The first thing we should get comfortable with before we try to teach our kids about these topics or to answer their questions about it is that we will never know everything there is to know about gender and sexual orientation. We should start getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. We should start getting comfortable with saying “I don’t know” when we truly don’t have an answer. Gender and sexuality often have unique meanings to each person, so there will always be unknowns. That being said, kids should be given some level of an introduction to what they are being exposed to in regards to gender and sexual orientation.

Currently, the Ontario school curriculum starts discussing sexual orientation in grade 5 and gender in grade 6. While this is beneficial, talking to your kids outside of the classroom before hearing about it in the classroom may benefit their learning. Even just giving your kids a brief introduction to the topics can be beneficial for them. Research shows