Modern youth express gender identity — the internal sense of how someone feels or experiences a particular gender — in their lives each day, which means they must do so in school as well. On Sunday, May 26, sj Miller will be at the Jean Cocteau Cinema to discuss about Gender Identity Justice in Schools and Communities, the premier book in the new Teachers College Press series, School: Questions. The talk will include a question and answer session led by writer-performer and improvisational instructor Quinn Fontaine.
There are aggravating factors (such as homelessness when rejected by a family, incidents of bullying and school violence, lack of counseling resources, and so on) that indicate a clear need for educational environments to offer support to students struggling with their identities. For that matter, students who know and accept exactly how they identify still need support and representation. One intention Miller often expresses in writings and talks is to provide strategies so educators may build and encourage school environments to aid all students in becoming social change agents. Miller’s book addresses identity in teacher education and considers the dangers when schools lack awareness or sensitivity about the issue. As for students with complex gender identities, the writer and lecturer argues that “sometimes school codes of conduct, personal biases, and lack of gender identity awareness shut these students down,” and that “each student should be embraced, enshrined, and enveloped throughout the school day.”
To avoid the dangers of cisgender assumptions, Miller advocates, teachers must be sensitive and respectful in the classroom. A best outcome would be for students to see themselves reflected in curricula, instructional choices, and educational policies. No matter what, through books such as about Gender Identity Justice in School Communities and by offering a framework for educators to navigate, Miller helps student teachers, in particular, create socially, culturally relevant approaches to meeting often unmet needs. Miller clearly believes that respect matters a great deal in pedagogy and has expressed hope for a world that is “ready, steady, and prepared for those coming into it,” however they may identify.
This event will be held at the Jean Cocteau Cinema (418 Montezuma Avenue) at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, May 26. Entry is $10; $29 tickets include a softcover copy of the book. For information, call 505-466-5528, or visit jeancocteaucinema.com/event/author-event-sj-miller. — Patricia Lenihan