Guest post by Author, Afsaneh Moradian
Happy Pride Month! As people march and hold events about the history and struggles of the LBGTQIA community for equality and civil rights, it’s also a time to celebrate and support the visibility of LGBTQIA folks.
Much of the spirit of Pride this year is to highlight that gender is more complex and open than we think and that dividing people into men and women don’t cut it anymore.
Over the past few years, young people have taken discussions about gender in a whole new direction — declaring themselves gender neutral, gender non-conforming, non-binary, gender fluid, and transgender.
Too many of us adults are lagging behind our kids. We continue to fall back on old definitions of gender and gender stereotypes. There are so many princesses for young girls to emulate, while boys are directed towards superheroes. When we buy presents, store aisles stocked with color-coded boxes tell us to buy that baby doll or craft project for a girl and that action figure or robot for a boy.
I am proud to be the author of Jamie is Jamie: A Book About Being Yourself and Playing Your Own Way. A book that challenges gender stereotypes and gives kids the freedom to be who they are and play whatever they want.
Whenever I give readings, I tend to get similar reactions from the audience. The kids want to know if Jamie is a boy or a girl but think that both boys and girls can play like Jamie (with baby dolls and action figures). Usually, one or two kids will suggest that Jamie is transgender like another child they know. In general, they think Jamie is a fun kid who they would like to have as a friend.
The reactions that stand out to me from the adults are the parents of transgender children who thank me for writing a book that supports their kids and gives them a place to be represented and respected.
I also hear from so many women who relate to Jamie because they were labeled “tomboys” when they were kids for not being interested in “girl” toys. I also see knowing recognition in the faces of many men who tell me they were made fun of as kids for wanting to care for a baby doll or just play with everything in the classroom as Jamie does in the book. And, there are folks who just couldn’t ever feel like they belonged because they didn’t fit into the “girl” or “boy” mold.
I think that during this Pride month we should keep in mind that kids don’t need us to tell them what they should play with or who they should be. Kids today are figuring that out just fine for themselves. What they need from us is to respect, celebrate, and love them so they can be confident in who they are and who they will grow up to be.
Afsaneh Moradian has loved writing stories, poetry, and plays since childhood. After receiving her master’s in education, she took her love of writing into the classroom where she began teaching children how to channel their creativity. Her passion for teaching has lasted for over fifteen years. Afsaneh now guides students and teachers (and her young daughter) in the art of writing.
One more thing…
Through color-coding in stores, kids “learn” which toys are “supposed” to be for girls or boy. Pink and yellow toys are considered “girly” and anything blue or dark green is obviously for boys, right? What about the toys themselves? Can boys play with dolls and girls play with trucks?
Of course, they can! And that’s the open-minded thinking that is captured in my children’s picture book, Jamie is Jamie.
I wrote Jamie is Jamie for my daughter who’d been told that only boys can play a superhero. My daughter and every other child deserve a book that gives them permission to be free to play and explore their own way-not the way everyone “thinks they should.”
I created my book to challenge gender stereotypes and encourage children to make play choices based on their interests. And because playing is fundamental to learning, I’ve created a special section in Jamie is Jamie for teachers, parents, and caregivers where they can find tips on how to make kids’ playtime learning time.
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