Effects of Sex and Gender Discrimination in the Classroom
Below is a test for gauging whether your classroom behavior is sexist, homophobic or transphobic. Consider how LGBTQ persons, women, and men are stereotyped in these statements:
- "Gay men are hypersexual and should not be permitted to use the same facilities as straight male athletes whom they tould likely prey upon."
- "Women shouldn't be in engineering - they don't handle complex problems well and use their looks to get ahead."
- "Men should not teach primary grades - they're not nurturing."
- "Transgender student are only attention seeking rebels."
Although deliberate acts of discrimination on the part of faculty, instructors, teaching and lab assistants are relatively rare, people do convey their values and attitudes in the ways in which they interact with students.
If these values and attitudes happen to be exclusionary - for example, if someone believes that women's and men's roles are distinct and separate, or that homosexuality or trans gendering is wrong -- then they may be discouraging women and LGBTQ persons from participating fully in the classroom. The student may feel to marginalized, intimidated, embarrassed or fearful to ask question, pose viewpoints, etc.
Many people operate according to cultural assumptions about the sexes, sexual orientation and gender expression and identity. These assumptions must be challenged and perhaps changed to ensure respectful and inclusive treatment of all students.