Union Free School District
- Hastings-on-Hudson U.F.S.D.
Hillside Elementary School Exploring Dimension of Gender
Hillside Elementary School made strides in exploring the dimensions of gender with an informational session this past week.
Nearly 100 parents and community members joined an informational session to enhance the understanding of gender equity and inclusion in the elementary school. Teachers and administrators of the school presented the basics of the different dimensions of gender while emphasizing that supporting gender diversity is important both in and out of the classrooms.
“We all carry certain ideas about gender,” said Hillside Elementary School Principal Amy Cazes. “As we enter into this work together, we ask that you are willing to explore those ideas as we introduce the dimensions of gender.”
The teachers and administrators who led the conversation have deepened their own understanding of gender through training provided by Gender Spectrum, an organization that works to create gender sensitive and inclusive environments for all children and teens. The training took place earlier this month and the staff at the elementary school hope to pass on some of their knowledge to the community at large.
“This team of professionals is really leading the way in gender equity,” said Cazes. “We recognized that we had work to do and we have students at Hillside that need us to better understand where they fit on the spectrum of gender.”
The presentation included information on how transgender and gender expansive youth face great difficulties, and that gender inclusive schools create better learning environments for all children.
Cazes hopes that opening up a dialogue with parents and children on sensitive issues such as gender will have a similar effect at the school and in the community itself.
“This work is helping every single child to be seen and to feel valued in that they are an important part of our Hillside community,” said Cazes. “What’s important is that we set up a community where every single person who walks through our doors knows that this is a place for them.”
Looking towards the future, Cazes said, her goal is to promote inclusivity across the board. With programs and groups such as the fourth grade “Sparks” curriculum and Affinity Group, which started earlier this month. The information session was just another step in the right direction for gender inclusivity, Cazes said, adding that she wants to keep discussions on gender and race going with staff, students, parents and community members.
“Our goal is to create opportunities for these conversations,” she said. “Because we have had these conversations for years, they aren’t as hard to enter into anymore and we intend to keep it that way.”
Beyond the conversations, the goal is to foster an inclusive environment where everyone is accepted and acknowledged.
“We are preparing our students for life, and in life, gender diversity is the norm,” she said. “When you’re ready to promote inclusion it really opens up the world for everyone.”
If you missed our Dimensions of Gender at Hillside presentation from January 26, 2021, please see this recording. For your convenience, the presentation slides can be found here. Also, on the last slide, you can access our FAQ and Hillside Google Form for additional questions.