“We’ve all seen news stories about schools attempting to grapple with gender identity issues in children and adolescents, from name changes to restroom policies. In many cases, educators have found themselves making it up as they go along in trying to serve these children — and so has the medical system.” P. Klass, M.D., The New York Times
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
Excerpt: Helping Pediatricians Care for Transgender Children PerriKlass, M.D., The New York Times
“This month, the American Academy of Pediatrics put out its first policy statement to guide people providing medical care for children and adolescents who are transgender or questioning their gender identity.
It arose in part as a direct response to queries from pediatricians, parents and patients, said Dr. Cora Breuner, a professor of pediatrics and adolescent medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital…The goal of treatment is ‘understanding who each individual child is, and supporting them on that journey,’ said Dr. Jason Rafferty, a pediatrician and psychiatrist at Thundermist Health Center and Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Rhode Island, who was the lead author on the statement; he spoke of “creating a system where all children feel they have access to supportive and nonjudgmental care.’
Dr. Breuner said that ‘many times, when there are gender issues, we don’t have a road map.’ The statement puts forward a model of ‘gender-affirmative care,’ based in the idea that ‘variations in gender identity and expression are normal aspects of human diversity,’ and that mental health problems in these children arise from stigma and negative experiences, and can be prevented by a supportive family and environment — including health care. The term ‘gender diverse’ describes those whose gender identity does not match the sex they have been assigned, or the norms that are expected to go with that assignment.
‘Gender identity is a brain thing, it’s your sense of whether you’re male or female in your head; it is independent of your body parts, it is independent of who are you attracted to,’ said Dr. John Steever, an adolescent medicine specialist and assistant professor of pediatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
‘People can have a sense of being male, female, both, somewhere in between, all of these are normal variations,” he said. ‘Just because they’re not very common doesn’t mean they’re abnormal, and my job is to help patients and parents understand all this.
The new A.A.P. statement tries to dispel a variety of myths about growing up with gender identity questions, Dr. Breuner said, such as the idea that parents should assume this is only a passing phase. ‘And still, colleagues look at me askance, say, ‘Isn’t this something they grow out of, I was taught that in medical school,’Dr. Breuner said. ‘So was I. It’s incorrect.’
And these issues sometimes emerge in relatively young children. Children may say that they don’t feel right in their bodies as young as 4 or 5, Dr. Breuner said, or may say more specifically something like, ‘even though I look like a boy, I feel like I’m a girl.’ Some adolescents will decide to pursue further interventions, medical or surgical, sometimes called transitioning.
‘I always tell parents I’m in no rush, I don’t have an agenda here,’ he said. Many kids, he said, feel much better after they start transitioning. On the other hand, ‘just because you start transition doesn’t mean it’s going to be always sunshine and rainbows — kids are going to need support.’
NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 2 hours.
Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Activities
The K-W-L chart is used to activate students’ background knowledge of a topic in order to enhance their comprehension skills.
II. While Reading Activities: Word Inference
Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- It can be difficult growing up with gender identity questions.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics tries to dispel myths.
- The guidelines were written in part as a direct response to queries from pediatricians, parents and patients
- Dr. Jason Rafferty is a pediatrician.
- Dr. Rafferty wants to create a system where all children feel they have access to supportive and nonjudgmental care.
- The goal of treatment is understanding who each individual child is.
- Just because they’re not very common doesn’t mean they’re abnormal.
- Growing up gender-diverse means children and adolescents are much more likely to be bullied.
- Dr. Breuner agreed, It’s the environment that endangers the child, she said, not the gender issues.
- More adults are also identifying as transgender.
Reading Comprehension: Fill-ins
Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentencestaken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary
The biggest ___for doing a lot of this___is to try and ___ some of the traditional ___outcomes that ___or gender-nonconforming youth have ended up with,” Dr. Steever said. “We know that many of these___, if unsupported, have grown up and dealt with ___ ___ideation and attempts, substance use and abuse.
WORD LIST: suicidal, depression, people, transgender, horrible reason,work,prevent,
Grammar Focus: Word -Recognition
Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.
Growing up/out gender-diverse means child/children and adolescents are/is much more likely/likable to be bully/bullied and excluded, and their/they are at/on high risk for depression, suicidal thoughts and suicide. “The statistics are pretty stark,” Dr. Breuner said/say, “triple the/an rate of suicide, five times the risk of suicidal ideation, bullying, teasing, abuse. It’s just horror/horrific.”
III. Post Reading Activities
Directions: Have students use the WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.
Who or What is the article about?
Where does the action/event take place?
When does the action/event take place?
Why did the action/event occur?
How did the action/event occur?
Discussion for Comprehension /Writing
Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.
- What would your reaction be if your best friend told you that they were transgender?
- If there are transgender members in your group see if they’s like to share their experiences.
- The article states, “And these issues sometimes emerge in relatively young children. Children may say that they don’t feel right in their bodies as young as four or five, Dr. Breuner said, or may say more specifically something like, “even though I look like a boy, I feel like I’m a girl.” In your opinion, can a young child really know and understand which gender they want to be? Provide reasons for your answer.
1-Minute Free Writing Exercise
Directions: Allow students 1 minute to write down one new idea they’ve learned from the reading. Ask them to write down one thing they did not understand in the reading. Review the responses as a class.