Unit for youth aged 8-12 based on the novel GeorgeEdit
- As background literature, students can read the book Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
- Read the book George by Alex Gino
Lesson Plan IdeasEdit
- Fill out a KWL table with the students on the term transgender to see what students know and what they want to know, teachers can come back to this after reading the book so they can add to the Learn section and state what they have learned
- Organize a class play of Charlotte's Web as was done in the book George but specifically allow any students to try out for any role and have a discussion about gender in the theater, imagination, and students free to choose any role in the play
- Facilitate a discussion about the author, Alex Gino. Gino is genderqueer and uses singular they pronouns and the honorific Mx. and can be used to introduce the topic of pronouns, introduce the singular they/them pronouns, and discuss the definition of genderqueer
- For additional curricular resources on teaching children about gender, see www.genderwheel.com
- Have students compare and contrast actions that made Melissa feel supported and those that made her feel bad. Were all those that made her feel bad intentional? What are ways we might make people feel bad unintentionally? Did the book give them ideas for ways they can make people feel safe and supported?
Example of quotes from the book. Students can sort the items based on how they make Melissa feel.
- Scott asks “so, like, do you want to” -he made a gesture with two fingers like a pair of scissors- “go all the way?” (pg 141)
- Melissa’s mom takes away her magazines
- Sign on the principal’s wall, rainbow flag with “SUPPORT SAFE SPACES FOR GAY, LESBIAN, BISEXUAL, AND TRANSGENDER YOUTH” (pg 125)
- “‘It takes a special person to cry over a book. It takes compassions as well as imagination.’ Ms. Udell patted George’s shoulder. ‘Don’t ever loose that, George, and I know you’ll turn into a fine young man.’” (pg15)
- Principle Maldonado whispered “My door is always open.” (pg 161)
- “Well, you can’t control who your children are, but you can certainly support them, am I right?” Principle Maldonado (pg160)
- After Melissa says “I’m not gay,” her brother Scott says “Whatever. I don’t care. My friend Matt is gay. It’s no big deal.” (pg 139)
- Scott says “Weird. But it kinda makes sense. No offense, but you don’t make a very good boy.” (pg 141)
- After the play, Kelly says “you were totally like a girl…I mean, you totally are a girl.” (pg 154)
- After the play Melissa’s mom says, “I realize I was seeing my son on stage, and nearly everyone in the audience thought he was a girl.” (pg159)
- Melissa’s mom says, “being that kid of gay?…That’s something else entirely.” (pg 128)
List of possible discussion questionsEdit
1. Melissa’s mother mentions that when she was 3 years old, wearing her clothing and shoes was cute, but implies it would not be cute now. What was the stopping point? Did Melissa stop as she noticed the strict gender roles? Do you think her mother forced her to stop?
2. What are ways in which schools can make children feel more supported? Less supported?
3. What are ways her mother could have promoted open communication and support for Melissa during the conversation about the magazines?
4. Melissa’s best friend Kelly is the first person that George opens up about being a girl, who would you guess would be next?
5. Melissa is lacking support and education around gender, could this have been introduced in the classroom? If so, in what ways?
6. What are the parallels or connections between Charlotte and Melissa?
7. What were your takes on the titles and content of the magazines? Both the one about female expression and the magazine about males embracing their feminine side?
8. In what ways is Kelly showing ally behavior? Scott? Principal Maldonado? others?
9. After the play, besides Kelly, what other students show support for Melissa’s performance as Charlotte? What did they do to show support?
10. What is gender? What gender do you identify with? What expectations are assigned to your gender? Do you feel like you meet all expectations for your gender?