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Heteronormativity and atypical gender behaviors are important issues at schools nowadays. Many psychological problems of students are connected with them. The educational process has lack of information on these issues. Teachers do not know how to cope with bullying and harassment in the attitude to children with abnormal sexual orientation from the side of their peers. The curriculum requires significant improvements in order to avoid terrible consequences of such a psychological abuse. The elementary school forms the basis of life values and principles and more attention has to be paid to sexual upbringing of children. There have to be worked out special programs and trainings for educators which will help to reduce the level of violence and oppression in the classroom between children of different sexual orientation.
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Nowadays, the problem of heteronormativity is quite important at educational institutions. Children can be very cruel and treat their classmates terribly, if they are different and if they have atypical gender behaviors. Thus, students, who represent themselves as gays or lesbians, can face bullying, harassment, and assault by other children. It is estimated that at the age of 9-10, children realize their sexual orientation and behave according to the norms for girls or boys. If a boy behaves like a girl, he can be treated with disrespect and hate because he is considered to be abnormal. In modern society, the question of heteronormativity and heterosexism can cause a wave of violence and oppression from other students. Teachers need more information on how to solve such conflicts in the classroom, how to teach children to accept their reality normally, without any actions of anger or disrespect. All children have equal rights to express their personality and to have their own features that can be quite different from others. The main task of teachers is to create an appropriate environment, where children can survive emotionally, physically, and socially. There are many cases when children, who suffer from harassment and violence from their classmates, decide to commit a suicide as they cannot cope with the fact that they are different and not accepted by society. Therefore, it is necessary to analyze the problem of children with different orientation and the ways teachers can help them to overcome all difficulties, connected with their heterosexuality. The basic of future relations between children with abnormal behaviors and their normal classmates in society depends on the information, obtained from their teachers in elementary school.
Teachers’ Beliefs and Attitudes
The main problem, connected with heteronormativity and heterosexism among children, is a wrong attitude of teachers to the children with abnormal gender behaviors. It is usual to observe discrimination, intolerance, and bullying of children with atypical gender behaviors at schools. Teachers do not notice the first signs of such behaviors or they are afraid to discuss this problem with children. Therefore, they need more knowledge to solve the problem of homophobic discrimination (Goodhand & Brown, 2016). The main reason of such a fear is lack of professional training regarding these issues, the negative attitude of teachers to atypical gender behaviors, a non-inclusive curriculum, and so on. Consequently, it is necessary to include a special training and lectures on heteronormativity and heterosexism among children to avoid violence and oppression of students with different sexual orientation.
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Furthermore, it is important to develop tolerance and acceptance of such students from the early years of study to create a healthy attitude of society towards gays or lesbians. They have rights to exist as they feel they should, without following the rules that are dictated by society. Schools play a very important role in the development of personalities and influence the process of “normalization” (Mayo, 2015). At the same time, there is a dominant culture of schools and those students, who break the rules of this culture, can face victimization. With the help of schools, children learn from their interactions with peers and teachers which norms of behaviors are acceptable and which are not. Such an understanding of these norms guides their behavior with each other (Goodhand & Brown, 2016). If a child expresses their gender orientation and it is accepted rudely with disrespect from the side of their peers, such a child can even develop depression, following the attempts to hide their real nature because of fear of being harassed or oppressed.
Methods of Identification of Atypical Sexual Orientation
There are some methods on how to define sexual orientation of children at schools. Thus, students are given questionnaires with 32 yes/no questions, and after analyzing their answers, it is possible to understand who has atypical gender behavior or which students are normal. Further, it is considered that if parents or teachers notice the signs of abnormal gender orientation at an early age, it is possible to change the situation by treating a child and raising them in some special way, explaining the norms of sexual behavior (Goodhand & Brown, 2016). Any child cannot face violence or oppression from their peers or teachers in the case they show some signs of having gender orientation that differs from societal norms.
Firstly, teachers need to reduce oppression of children with abnormal gender behaviors in order to satisfy their needs. There are two types of people – some of them participate in oppression very actively, while other people confront it actively. Therefore, it is possible to take different steps to stop violence because of abnormal gender orientation in the classroom. Among such steps is a response to heteronormative comments or the discussion of gay rights. At the same time, it is useful to discuss diverse families during some lessons to explain students that it can be normal (Mayo, 2015). However, it is also a difficult task for teachers to defend gays and lesbians and to convince other students that every person has the right for atypical gender behavior. The main obstacles to confronting heteronormative problems are existing heterosexist school climate, an insufficient training of teachers and lack of resources on these issues, personal attitude and discomfort, fear of being oppressed by society, abswnse of support and understanding from others (Goodhand & Brown, 2016). The main task for teachers is to overcome fears and to support their students in order to encourage them to be themselves.
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Gender Stereotypes, Hidden in Biological Language
The main stereotype about gender is the tale about the egg and the sperm. Thus, the egg and the sperm are created for each other. The egg is a female feature, and the sperm is a male power (Martin, 1991). The behavior of the egg is very feministic as it is passive, and the egg does not even move, waiting for the sperm to reach it. At the same time, the behavior of the sperm is masculine as it moves fast, with a great power to reach the egg. Consequently, it is necessary to explain children at elementary school how this process works and what the roles of males and females are in this life. Specifically, they should know that a man has to perform male function, which is to make children, and a woman has to bear children. They cannot change their roles as everything is done by nature (Martin, 1991). This information can be given in the way of a tale and accepted by children easily. Such stereotypes must be settled since childhood, which can help develop a correct understanding of female and male nature.
The main problem of heterosexuality and sexual orientation among students is the fact that teachers and students just avoid the discussion of such a topic. During lessons, it is useful to talk about a family and its components. The solution of this problem can be seen in the hidden and evaded informal curriculum, with the help of which teachers can control and regulate the behaviors of students and their understanding of sexuality. With their actions, the faculty, students, and society members dictate what is normal for boys and girls in their sexual behaviors. Due to the structures and policies of many schools, they are still homophobic and they do not recognize abnormal gender orientation among students. Therefore, it is wrong since teachers play a very important role in the development of personalities of students and they can regulate many processes, connected with children’s sexual orientation (Mayo, 2015). Many teachers do not accept the possibility of having two mothers or two fathers for a child, and they feel uncomfortable when speaking with such parents. Such an attitude is also incorrect as every family has the right to exist. Families can consist of two mothers or fathers, and other people need to accept them as equal.
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If school leaders and educators do not discuss and accept the problems of heteronormativity, they allow the cases of oppression and marginalization of children who have LGBT parents. They also allow other students to show violence in the attitude to children with abnormal gender behaviors. Teachers need to reduce the level of oppression against such unordinary students and change the policies of schools regarding homophobia as such an attitude violates the right of these children.
To sum up, it is possible to say that the problem of heterosexuality is important at schools, especially at the elementary level. Nowadays, more and more children can show atypical sexual behaviors, but it has to be accepted and not oppressed. The main task of educators and school leaders is to support such children and at the early age to explain to them the roles of men and women and their functions in society from the social and biological points of view. The curriculum must include special programs and trainings for teachers as well as students, based on sexual behaviors. If there are children who behave abnormally, there must be no violence or oppression against them from their peers and teachers since this can lead to terrible consequences, including depressions and suicide. The educational process has to be develop properly to fit different children and their behaviors.