There is a time and place for discussions on gender identification, however, those discussions should be kept out of nursery. As previously stated, I believe that people can be born in the wrong body and should be able to change if they so wish. That said, bringing it into primary is concerning enough but nursery?
As someone who has worked in nurseries and with four-year-olds in particular I can tell you that when wee Johnny puts on a dress and high-heels, all he is doing is playing a role for that day and will put on a superman outfit and pretend to be superman the next.
In all my years of work, never have I ever come across any child who categorically stated that they are a certain gender, they may say they are male or female but they also may state that they are a super hero, does that mean wee Johnny is superman?
Imaginative play is very important to the development of Children, according to Bain and Martin “Imaginative and imitative play flourishes, reflecting the child’s observation of real life as well as fulfilment of his desires.”
If wee Johnny is playing dress up, he is playing a role, if he carries a doll or goes to the shops, posts a letter, answers the phone he is taken on the role of someone else. According to Bruce and Meggitt, “Children use their own real-life experiences and rearrange them.”
The fact that a 70 page document drawn up by LBGT advisory group including Stonewall has been sent to schools by the Scottish government is concerning, as stated above in all my time as an early years’ practitioner I have never came across any child who has stated they are the opposite gender. If they did however, practitioners would not correct the child, merely let them be whatever they have chosen to be for that day. Whether it be Princess Jasime, or whatever Disney Princess the girls were playing that day, or a dinosaur as was all the rage when I worked in nursery education. Children were encouraged to be whatever they wanted to be. What didn’t happen, and should never happen is the casual way in which teachers and early years practitioners are encouraged to keep secrets from parents. If transgender is to be encouraged then why the secrecy around it? Why keep the fact that wee Johnny has said he’s a girl, or wee Jeany has stated that she is a boy. Why are teachers discouraged from mentioning this to the parent? And as stated, if many children grow out of this.
Then why is it being implemented into nursery education?
Bain and Martin believe “Four-year-olds may show curiosity about sex, children will explore one another’s bodies and perhaps indulge in mutual genital manipulation, no emotions except sensuous pleasure are involved”
Children do explore sexual curiosity but that is all it is, they are not developed enough to know what they are exploring, yet we are being led to believe that they know at that age that they are a boy or a girl and that teachers are to use the he/she pronouns. Children of that age do not know what a pronoun is.
Let them be children, let them have their role play, leave them to develop into what they would like to be.