A Catholic school in Ottawa teaches Grade 9 students about the complexities of gender using the Genderbread Person, a YouSoup recipe activity with ingredients such as race, gender, sexual orientation and disability status, and a convoluted flow chart to determine whether it’s okay to say “gay.”
The lesson plan is used as part of the Healthy Living segment of the Grade 9 physical education curriculum in the Catholic school board, and while part one is supposed to be aimed at helping adolescents understand sexuality, much of the content is focused on gender identities.
In a slideshow presentation shared on Twitter by Chanel Pfahl, a teacher currently under investigation by the Ontario College of Teachers for questioning critical race theory in a private Facebook group for teachers, students are given definitions for common terms such as gay and lesbian, both of which are defined as being “physically and/or emotionally attracted” to members of the same sex. Students also learn that a “pansexual” person is someone who is “physically and/or emotionally attracted to members of any sexual orientation or gender identity” and that their “attraction is not limited to any specific group.”
Then, students are advised to visit the It’s Pronounced Metrosexual website to learn more terms and conditions, such as cisgender, genderqueer, and FTM (female-to-male). From this glossary, Grade 9 girls can learn about binding, which involves wearing a chest compression device to “alter or reduce the appearance of one’s breasts.” This, teenage girls are told, is “a form of gender expression.”
Teenagers also learn the subtle difference between demiromantic—little or no capacity to experience romantic attraction until a strong sexual connections is formed, often within a sexual relationship; and demisexual—little or no capacity to experience sexual attraction until a strong romantic connection is formed with someone, often within a romantic relationship.
“Skoliosexual” people are defined as “being primarily sexually, romantically and/or emotionally attracted to some genderqueer, transgender, transsexual, and/or non-binary people,” and the term homosexual is curiously labeled an offensive “medical” term and is discouraged for common use. “Same gender loving” (SGL) is apparently used by some members of the African-American or Black community to express a non-straight sexual orientation without “relying on terms and symbols of European descent.”
In the YouSoup activity, students are asked to think about all the different identities that make up who they are. For the base broth, they must select their gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, or disability status, then add components such as their socioeconomic status, education and geographic location, before adding extras such as hobbies, political beliefs and hidden identities. These must all be simmered together for 18 to 25 years before “You” are ready, which is at least an acknowledgment that identity formation is an on-going process that doesn’t end until the brain reaches full maturity at around age 25.
Next up is the Genderbread Person and again students are directed to the It’s Pronounced Metrosexual website to see if the Genderbread Person can help them “begin to understand the complexities of gender and sexual orientation.”
Once there, the Grade 9 students will be confronted by a bewildering visual with sliding scales of “woman-ness” and “man-ness”, “female-ness” and male-ness”. They’ll also be told that “sex is assigned at birth.” This is inaccurate language. Sex is determined at the moment of conception, and observed either before or at birth.
Equally baffling is the definition of sexual attraction, which the Genderbread visual tells adolescents who are just discovering their sexual identity means to be attracted to women, feminine and/or female people; or men, masculine and/or male people. This is done to ensure that heterosexual males who identify as women and therefore believe themselves to be lesbians get to be included in the category of lesbian. Many lesbians strongly object to being told that they should be willing to accept these males as sexual partners.
Following a very confusing and convoluted flowchart to determine whether or not it’s okay to say the word gay, the adolescents are presented with a slide of assumptions about gender in society that appears to have been lifted straight out of the 1950s. Masculinity is associated with being the “bread winner” and the “boss of the house” and femininity with being “pretty,” “thin,” and a “sexual object.”
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