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Awkward Situation
Old 01-29-2018, 09:40 PM
 
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Ok everyone I work with 4th graders and had something...different...happen last week. I do pull out and on this particular day only one of my students was in my room. As she worked on her work I was cleaning the room and we were chatting. Out of nowhere she said "I'm kinda a boy", thinking she was talking about the character on her word game I simply said "oh, what's your character's name?" She went on to say "no, not on this thing, but for real. I mean I don't like dresses or make up and I don't like girl colors." Unsure of where the conversation was going I asked her what she meant by girl colors and her response surprised me. She stated "you know, the things you like. Like pink, and purple, and glitter. I don't really like any of that stuff but I'm not saying I'm gay or anything."

Please understand, I'm far from homophobic and I wasn't the least bit judgmental when she said that, it was just that this statement surprised me. Does this kid think she might be gay? Did she come out to me? Was she testing the waters with me to see how an adult she respects would respond? Is this a concern of hers or was she truly just clarifying that she's not gay because kids think it has something to do with how you dress or what colors you like?

I know the town where we live, and I know this girls family. If she said something like that publicly or to her family, she would very quickly come to regret it as we don't live in the most open minded part of the country. I'm sure I'm over thinking this but this kid already deals with severe anxiety and depression and now I'm wondering if this might be part of why. She's been taught from our little town that there is something wrong with gay people and if she is thinking she might lean that way I could see where that could cause lots of strong emotions a kid that age is not equipped to deal with. I'm pretty sure she'll never discuss this again, even if I bring it up, as she's not one to discuss her feelings. I've managed to create a very strong connection with this kid and her family...sister also attends my school, and mom has become a friend, albeit not a close one. This whole family adores me and tells me frequently how much I've done for the kids in terms of bringing up their confidence and making them feel comfortable. I just want to support my student and make sure she knows I love her and that she can safely talk to me about anything. Anyone have any thoughts or opinions?


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Old 01-29-2018, 10:20 PM
 
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I don't think she was coming out in regards to her sexual preference, but she is questioning her gender identity. She is wondering if she identifies more with being a male since she doesn't like the things that she thinks a girl should like such as girly girly things. I think many children go through this at some point - especially those who don't identify with the stereotypical things they are being told they should like. Will she want to do something about this at some point? Only time will tell. She may come to realize that she can be a female without being a girly girl or she may think she needs to change her gender identity. I would just listen to her without offering any advice or suggestions.
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Back in the day...
Old 01-30-2018, 02:03 AM
 
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I was a Tomboy.
Recess with the boys, wore pants, played boys' games. No pink, etc. Really good athlete, but with boy sports (back when there was more of a difference.)
I certainly wasn't gay.

She's being an individual.
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My thoughts
Old 01-30-2018, 02:26 AM
 
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I was very much like that little girl. I am a heterosexual female, married to a great guy, but I have never been into so-called "girly" things. Of the 3 daughters, I was the one who did wood working, played sports, preferred shooting over shopping, had more male friends than female, etc. I prefer jeans over skirts, I wear very little makeup, and, much to my stepmom's dismay, I was never in a beauty pageant. All that to say that, I get where she's coming from.

I agree with what Dee said. She's being an individual. Had she said that to me, I would have honestly laughed and said, "Me either!" I think it's okay to let her know that she's just fine the way she is, and that there are MANY women who don't necessarily like "girl" things. Nothing wrong with those that do. Nothing wrong with those that don't.

Are you in the Bible Belt or in a place where you can talk about your beliefs in school, and it's okay? If so, I'll PM you some other thoughts.
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Old 01-30-2018, 04:10 AM
 
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Maybe time to talk about stereotypes. The stereotype of "girl" is pink and ruffles and feather boas and high heels...and many little girls think this is truly feminine gender identity. Too much media exposure just strengthens the stereotype.

Most people do not fit stereotypes. Girls can be athletes and like wearing jeans and primary colors. Boys can wear pink and learn to knit.

Help her to see that her gender does not put her in a box. Offer her great examples of women who are not constrained by the stereotype. Reassure her that she is just fine the way she is, and that liking stereotypical boy things does not make her a boy, nor does it impact her identity as a girl.


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Old 01-30-2018, 04:11 AM
 
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Not to make light of it, but this sort of reminds me of the child who announced at home she learned how to make babies at school. When the very uncomfortable parent asked, the kid replied "You drop the y and add ies."

Unless the child expressed anxiety over this specific issue (her color choices and being kinda like a boy), I think it's best left alone. As others have pointed out, her explanations are probably more about what she likes than her "gender identity." (I'm not sure a fourth grader can (or should) start making a judgment about whether or not they are gay. But I do hear a lot of them talking about it... not that long ago overheard one ask another "Do you think you might be a lesbian?" I didn't stick around for the answer.)

I might have talked about how different people like different things... maybe even noted that while growing up how we think and what we like often changes as we are becoming the person we will be... and there's nothing wrong with liking different things. I too would be very cautious about giving her advice or going too deep.

One of the best pieces of advice I received from a teacher a long time ago was "Don't read too much into what a kid says."
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She's saying she's a tomboy.
Old 01-30-2018, 10:01 AM
 
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I don't think her statements have anything do with gender identity or sexual preference. She's simply stating that she doesn't like stereotypically girl things.
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I taught 4rth grade for 20 years
Old 01-30-2018, 12:51 PM
 
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I agree with the other previous posters. As a young child I enjoyed playing with boy toys as well as girl toys and definitely preferred shop class over sewing class. What IS good is that she seems to be quite comfortable speaking with you, therefore not increasing her anxiety and depression.
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Old 01-30-2018, 06:10 PM
 
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My sister was a tomboy. No makeup, played football in high school with the guys, etc. She's now married to a woman. I mostly replied because I read about 4th graders not knowing. My sister was fairly certain by 4th or 5th grade and she was a young 4th grader (summer birthday). She didn't feel comfortable enough to come out publicly until high school. I think sometimes kids know more than we give them credit for. Some of my kindergarteners understand way more than they should about life because they have been exposed to too much.
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Old 01-30-2018, 07:36 PM
 
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Quote:
I mostly replied because I read about 4th graders not knowing. My sister was fairly certain by 4th or 5th grade
I agree. My friends who are gay all say they knew when they were in elementary school.

However, I don't know if the girl was questioning her sexual orientation, her gender identity, or just saying she doesn't like girly things. Without talking to her further, it would be hard to know. But she obviously trusts you and is willing to be vulnerable around you. No matter what she says, I hope you continue to be supportive of her!


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