The first job of teaching, says psychologist and author Jennifer Bryan, is to help students see themselves. But are schools being as open and inclusive as they can be? Unfortunately not, says Bryan, whose book, From The Dress Up Corner to the Senior Prom, explores the topic of gender and sexuality in preK-12 school communities. Historically, schools have been heteronormative institutions, she says, from their curriculum to their programs to their athletics, thereby reinforcing traditional ideas about gender and sexual orientation.
"If we are going to encourage healthy identity development — which is what educators want, which is what parents want — then we really have to grapple with the degree to which heteronormativity is not an inclusive framework for many, many students," Bryan says.
In this edition of the Harvard EdCast, Bryan speaks to Senior Lecturer Richard Weissbourd, director of the Making Caring Common Project, about the dangers of heteronormativity and how schools can strive to be truly inclusive environments.
The Harvard EdCast is a weekly series of podcasts, available on the Harvard University iTunes U page, that features a 15-20 minute conversation with thought leaders in the field of education from across the country and around the world. Hosted by Matt Weber, the Harvard EdCast is a space for educational discourse and openness, focusing on the myriad issues and current events related to the field.