Team Education: Queering the Curriculum

scienceSabrina here! People are surprised to find out that I have a degree in biomedical science and it’s pretty common for me to get asked why I don’t work in my field of study.  My answer is always the same: “It’s hard being a queer woman in STEM and it’s always bothered me that science is so dominated by heterosexual, cisgender males”.  How do we get more LGBTQ+ folks interested in the field and encourage them to pursue careers in STEM?  Once they’re there, how do we ensure that the environment is welcoming and accepting?  I think the answer is in how we teach our children.

For students to succeed academically, it’s important that they feel supported, included, and safe. One way to do this is to include a wider range of people in your readings, assignments, and examples.  Students will be more engaged if they can better relate to the course content and feel like their lived experiences are relevant.  Also, the normalization of LGBTQ+ experiences helps foster a culture of acceptance and allyship.

But you’re probably asking yourself: “what does math have to do with being trans?”  There seems to be a common understanding that gender and sexuality is only relevant to health class and sex ed.  At the CCGSD, we strongly believe that gender and sexuality can go beyond health class and encourage teachers to include diverse examples into whichever subject they teach!  

test tubes

We are happy to workshop with teachers about how to incorporate diversity into their lessons.  Regardless of the subject, I’d recommend highlighting the contributions of LGBTQ+ people (and other underrepresented groups) to the field.  For example, did you know that Nikola Tesla was asexual? I wish I saw more diverse families or gender-neutral pronouns incorporated into homework and test questions (I.e. “Sara and her two dads went to to store to buy 4 apples…” or “Robin loves playing with zer cat…”).  

In addition to the social studies workshops we offer, we have developed 3 brand new curriculum-based workshops for intermediate/senior science and math classes.  For a full list of our workshops, please visit: http://ccgsd-ccdgs.org/book-a-workshop-or-presentation/ . If you have any more questions or would like to book a workshop, shoot us a quick email at education@ccgsd-ccdgs.org !

Codebreakers!: Alan Turing and the Enigma Machine

This workshop discusses the functioning of an Enigma machine and its role in the Second World War, with an activity using Caesar cipher and other beginner codes.  The workshop finishes with a discussion on the life of Alan Turing, the father of modern computing.

Curriculum pieces: Math, computer science

For grades 9-10; Length 60-75 minutes; Best delivered with 20-30 persons.

Languages offered: French and English

Diversifying Biodiversity

This workshop explores sexual diversity and the multitude of social behaviours found in nature (plants and animals).  The goal is foster critical thinking skills by disrupting the heteronormative bias of biological discourse and challenge the notion that homosexuality is “unnatural”.

Curriculum pieces: Biology (ecology, zoology, bias in science)

For grades 6-10; Length 60-75 minutes; Best delivered with 20-30 persons.

Languages offered: French and English

Sexual Differentiation and Intersex Conditions

Did you know that intersex folks are as common as redheads?  This workshop aims to raise awareness of intersex conditions and explore the definitions of “male” and “female”. Customized to the grade level’s curriculum, this workshop explores a range of topics including: cell differentiation, human development, genetics, and anatomy.

Curriculum pieces: Biology, anatomy

For grades 10-12; Length 60-75 minutes; Best delivered with 20-30 persons.

Languages offered: French and English

Note: I recognize that for some folks, the word “queer” is very offensive.  I chose to use it in the title of this post because I personally find word reclamation to be very empowering. Not to mention that I really like alliteration…

 


Roy and Silo are two male penguins who have pair bonded and raised their daughter, Silo. (Suggested reading: And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson)