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Wednesday, February 08, 2012


What do you do in situations where you’re not quite sure if the student you are addressing is a boy or a girl?

“Charlie” is a cute 3rd grader with chin length blond hair, wearing a stylish long sleeved shirt not tucked in, but over skinny legged jeans. In this school it’s not safe to assume that the name “Charlie” indicates a definite gender.

The face, voice and mannerisms can go either way. This isn’t the first time or even the second  that I’ve run into  situations like this. Having been wrong twice before, I don’t want to make this the third strike.

I’m NOT going embarrass him/her (and more importantly myself) by asking. I’m certainly not going to ask any other kid in class to clue me in so for most of the day, when needed, I just address “Charlie” by name and continue to watch for some deciding factor before making yet another inadvertent faux-pas.

It came just as everyone was lining up for the 1st recess when two boys in line were fighting over a ball to take out with them. Deciding that neither of these guys should get the prize, took the ball and tossed it to “Charlie” wherein one of the losers said:

“Awww, HE always gets to take the ball out!”

-- Dilemma solved!


Joel said...

I had this situation in a kinder class last year -- even bathroom breaks didn't answer the question since one day she/he used the boy's then the next used the girl's. Turned out the "Olivia" I had thought was absent all week was this tough, athletic boy...

Charles Bridges said...

What can I say? Don't refer to "Charlie's" Gender. You did exactly as I've done. I once did a camp with a boy whose mom was raising him to do things as a girl would. So he had on girl clothing and did everything as a girl would....except that he was a boy. I just try to be compassionate towards all of my students and go with flow trying not to offend anyone.

Anonymous said...

My grandson told me about a student in his class at the beginning of the yr. This child had long wavy hair that reached midway down his/her back. A beautiful face with long eyelashes and the name of "Chris" didn't help to clarify matters. Finally, on the 2nd or 3rd day of school, the teacher called Chris to her desk and whispered the "Are you a boy or a girl" question. My grandson didn't hear Chris's reply, so he decided to do his own investigative work. He followed Chris to the restroom area, where Chris entered the boy's bathroom. After visiting the classroom, I saw that Chris the boy looked very much like a beautiful girl. He is a charming, self confident guy who doesn't seem to mind looking like a girl.

Anonymous said...

I subbed in a Kindergarten class & I told the very cute child standing in the boys line to "go get in line with the rest of the girls".
Oops! He shouted, I'm not a girl!!
Luckily, the kids didn't seem to notice or care.