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Cross dressing in childcare centers settings

  • 1.  Cross dressing in childcare centers settings

    Posted 05-18-2021 07:26 AM

    While I will consult with an attorney to get proper guidance on an HR standpoint, I would love to hear from your experiences in your centers. 

    I hired 6 months ago a former student (my first kindergartner 22 years ago when I opened my center!) as an assistant teacher for my afternoon extended care program. He is a wonderful addition to my team and my little ones look forward to see him every day. Over the past few weeks, I noticed some changes in his appearance: nail polish on a few nails, ponytail, ears piercings, and more recently a woman's blouse over his pants. Yesterday he arrived wearing a long summer dress. 

    I have personally no problem with cross dressing and transgender. However is it appropriate to expose young children in a childcare center setting? I am concerned about my student's exposure and the image of my center.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. 



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    Veronique Liebmann
    Minnetonka MN
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  • 2.  RE: Cross dressing in childcare centers settings

    Posted 05-18-2021 12:13 PM
    I am wondering if the concern is about the children's exposure or the families response.  I say this because children will typically take other's differnces in more of a stride than adults.  I have recently watched the updated movie made regarding anti-biased teaching practices and would encourage you to think about how gender stereotypes and expectations fit into the conversation of diversity and being anti-biased.  How would you approach a child who is non-gender conforming and dressing outside of gender-norms?  Do you feel it is different because it is a teacher?  What position do you as an organization want to take as it applies to anti-biased education.  You questioned how this teacher's actions will reflect on your program, I challenge you to think about how your response to this teacher will reflect on your program.  Only you and your program's leadership can decide what direction you want to go as it relates to inclusiveness and anti-bias practices, but how you approach this can make that direction very clear.

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    Laura Pearce
    EHS Child Development Specialist
    Maryland Family Network
    Baltimore MD
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  • 3.  RE: Cross dressing in childcare centers settings

    Posted 05-19-2021 01:36 PM
    What is the updated movie that you watched? where can it be found?  I'm always looking for new things to present to my staff that are relevant to our times!
    Thank you!!

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    Sarah Disch
    Education Director
    St Louis Park MN
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  • 4.  RE: Cross dressing in childcare centers settings

    Posted 05-19-2021 10:54 PM
    The movie is an update to the video supporting Anti-bias curriculum.  Here is the link to the website.  There is a short "trailer" that is about 3 minutes but the full movie is closer to 50 minutes.  I am exploring ideas for how to incorporate it in a deeper conversation with staff and leadership with the programs I support to really think about what anti-bias practices look like to day, although I may wait since they shared that they are looking at making additional resources aimed at what anti-bias practices look with even younger children and since I work with 0-3 programs it may be more effective to wait for the younger resources.

    https://www.antibiasleadersece.com/the-film-reflecting-on-anti-bias-education-in-action/

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    Laura Pearce
    EHS Child Development Specialist
    Maryland Family Network
    Baltimore MD
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  • 5.  RE: Cross dressing in childcare centers settings

    Posted 30 days ago
    Thank you so much!  I am looking forward to watching the video and using some of the other items from this website with my staff!
    -Sarah Disch





  • 6.  RE: Cross dressing in childcare centers settings

    Posted 29 days ago
    Hi Laura,
    Many thanks for suggesting out new film "Reflecting on Anti-Bias Education in Practice: The Early Years."
    https://www.antibiasleadersece.com/the-film-reflecting-on-anti-bias-education-in-action/

    Debbie LeeKeenan and I are certainly talking about another film that would focus on the key role of families in anti-bias education - and this would also enable us to look at much younger children than the 3-5 year range - but this is probably a couple of years away and dependent on funding. Our current film took over 2 years from conception to release. The film site includes a guidebook that includes resources with regard to gender expression and identities.
    https://www.antibiasleadersece.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/EX_ABE_Guidebook_v3.pdf


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    John Nimmo
    Associate Professor
    Portland State University
    Portland OR
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  • 7.  RE: Cross dressing in childcare centers settings

    Posted 25 days ago
    Hello John,

    Thank you for sharing the link to "Reflecting on Anti-Bias Education in Practice: The Early Years." This is an absolute must-see film for anyone who cares about the future of this world.  The ECE Professionals and the children that they are teaching gave me a hopeful glimpse into a world that I only pray I live long enough to live in.  I will be sharing this the film title and link with my colleagues as well as the racial equity workgroup within my organization.

    Thank you again for this beautifully documented piece of work.



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    Wendy Gordon
    Quality and Education Coaching Specialist
    Early Learning Coalition of Broward
    Miami Gardens FL
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  • 8.  RE: Cross dressing in childcare centers settings

    Posted 05-19-2021 08:39 AM
    This is such a great question and I agree with Laura Jane. The real question is how will you and your leadership team embrace (or not) inclusivity. I have a young man on my team, while not transgender, does always have his nails done and make up on. He wears and carries 'women's' accessories. He also works really hard and is 100% dedicated to my program and doing whatever needs done. My families embrace him, some have even asked for him to come babysit for them. Other families may feel differently, but I loudly proclaim that all are welcome and that goes for my staff too.

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    ANIKA BLUM
    Owner/Director
    LITTLE TIGERS LEARNING CENTER
    Adel IA
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  • 9.  RE: Cross dressing in childcare centers settings

    Posted 05-19-2021 11:12 AM
    Hello:

    I am a center director and also a founder of an organization called Project RAI here in Fargo. We work with youth ages (3-14) who are gender fluid to provide them a space where they can play with other kids like them, an affirming and loving group of care givers, and help them build skills for self confidence. We also provide support meetings for parents to come and learn from other parents or members of the community who have made the same journey. Our events are open to all (not just the LGBTQ+ community), and are a way to spread awareness that gender identity starts early, and affirming children for who they are will ultimately lower the risk of suicide later in life.

    I would definitely look into some of the anti-bias resources the NAEYC provides. They are really wonderful and have great content around helping children (and adults) understand how to approach this subject, along with some empowering affirming language to use.

    As I reflect on this question, my first thought is one I sometimes have to ask when approached about my teachers who have lots of tattoos, piercings, and sometimes crazy hair: do their tattoos and things affect the way they do their job and care for the children? You have a huge opportunity here to do some really meaningful work in regards to gender identity, acceptance, and affirming people to be their best selves. It sounds like this teacher is super confident in who they are and is trying to live his best life, and honestly, it sounds like he is comfortable at your center. As a center in the metro, I would think having the reputation for embracing diversity would be a bonus to your program.

    Like others have said, children are much more accepting of what we might see as "differences", and you have an opportunity to show the children and families that differences should be embraced. I would also ask yourself, how do you and your team handle children who like to dress outside of their gender? What impact does this have on who they are and how they are received in the program? Just something to think about.


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    Kristin Nelson (she/hers)
    Child Development Center Director
    Jeremiah Program
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  • 10.  RE: Cross dressing in childcare centers settings

    Posted 05-19-2021 11:18 AM
    I agree with the last two comments and would add that, dependent upon state law, you may face issues in HR if you ask him to dress in more "traditionally male" clothes.  I did some research on gender identity in graduate school and the good news is that exposure to transgender applications is actually a benefit, especially to young boys who are still wrestling through what makes them "male".   Laura Jane correctly addressed the real issue, the parents' reaction to the cross dressing.  I wonder if you considered send a letter home to the parents addressing your assistants dress?  I would, of course, talk to HR or your admin as well as the young man before you do so.  I might also consider adding snippets about what research says about the benefits of exposing young children to transgender applications of clothing and materials to ease parent concern.


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    Colleen Baum
    General Education teacher
    Fort Worth ISD
    Fort Worth TX
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  • 11.  RE: Cross dressing in childcare centers settings

    Posted 30 days ago
    Thanks for this important question.

    My experience running an organization and centers is that the main way people get disappointed and upset is when they expect one thing and get another. Thus, the more we've been able to set the expectations early through education and policy, the better because then people don't feel "you never told me," or "I didn't know."

    Our kids attended a great program in NYC, the Bank Street Family Center. At the time they had a really nice onboarding process with a really good Parent Handbook so we knew the kind of center we would attend which celebrated diversity and was very focused on social emotional learning. Our family celebrated all kinds of events with other kids who has 2 mommies or 2 dads and I feel this was so important in our children becoming more accepting and thoughtful of others.

    I'm sure the employees also had a strong onboarding process with verbal as well as written policies. Something else I learned through many consults with HR lawyers overs the years is that practice makes policy. Thus, whats perhaps as important as written policies is what you allow in practice. In addition, policies change over time. We've found it's helpful to continue to review and update employee and parent handbooks to reflect our current realities and changes in government policies and laws. I know that it is so hard for gender fluid children and adults to be accepted by others and I applaud your inclusiveness.

    Another resource I came across is  https://www.genderjusticeinearlychildhood.com/our-books and I know there's folks specializing in this area that may offer your more specific suggestions. Happy to share my labor law resources if desired.

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    Scott Mesh, PhD, CEO
    Los Niños Services (NYC) www.losninos.com
    Young Child Expo & Conference www.youngchildexpo.com
    scott.mesh@losninos.com
    https://www.linkedin.com/in/scottmeshnyc/
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: Cross dressing in childcare centers settings

    Posted 29 days ago
    I want to express my gratitude to all of you who reacted to my post. Your open questions, experiences, thoughts and resources are a golden mine and have helped me to learn and grow. What a tremendous support! A ton of thanks.

    Véronique Liebmann
    Founder and Director
    The French Académie
    vliebmann@thefrenchacademie.org


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    Veronique Liebmann
    Minnetonka MN
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  • 13.  RE: Cross dressing in childcare centers settings

    Posted 28 days ago
    It's heartwarming to read responses that are so supportive of various gender identities and expressions.  As many have stated, it's often easier for children to have flexible thinking in this area than some adults.  There are some good picture books for children about gender identity and expression but the question was about the adults.  I'm glad that the resources others provided educated you so that you can educate parents, and ultimately support inclusiveness in your center for adults and children. Some of the children in your program will realize they're transgender, gender fluid or non-binary, or another identity that is outside of what we still consider to be the norm in our society.  Though they may not remember the specifics of this teacher and how they were supported by the school community, they'll have an internal sense of support or non-support for their own lives based on what they see and experience in school.  Not to be over dramatic, but the rates of depression and self-harming behaviors for kids outside of the gender binary are far higher than for cisgender (those who identify with the gender they're told they are at birth) kids.  Experiencing that people like them are supported in their community can be literally life-saving.  It's that important.  Thanks to Veronique for opening this up.

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    Aren Stone
    she/her/hers
    Child Development Specialist
    The Early Years Project
    Cambridge, MA
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  • 14.  RE: Cross dressing in childcare centers settings

    Posted 25 days ago

    Here's a wonderful article written by a colleague. He actually transitioned while teaching. He's a wonderful example of children's openness and acceptance. 


    https://www.raisingarizonakids.com/2020/09/creating-safety-for-children-through-gender-inclusive-language/



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    Allison Landy
    Northland Pioneer College
    Holbrook AZ
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  • 15.  RE: Cross dressing in childcare centers settings

    Posted 24 days ago
    Thank you for sharing Allison!

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    Veronique Liebmann
    Minnetonka MN
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  • 16.  RE: Cross dressing in childcare centers settings

    Posted 21 days ago
    Thanks for sharing that article, Allison!

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    Alan Guttman
    Baltimore MD
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  • 17.  RE: Cross dressing in childcare centers settings

    Posted 28 days ago
    A perspective and lessons learned on listening and gender identity from Maggie Evans, a recent National Head Start Association BOLD Leadership prize winner. A short video of a voice from the field that may serve as a conversation starter.

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    Alan Guttman
    Baltimore MD
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  • 18.  RE: Cross dressing in childcare centers settings

    Posted 22 days ago
    This strand has given me so much hope and joy! I love all the responses and appreciate people reaching out to know more. As a mother of a Transgender child I would like to thank you all.

     During our interview process the staff introduces themselves using their pronouns. Honestly I have to remember to introduce myself using my pronouns, but it seems like the youth are really good about doing so. I say "Hi my name is DeLynn the pronouns I use are she/her". Since you have known this child for a long time you may want to ask them what pronouns they would like you to refer to them as.

    I am excited to learn more myself so thank you for the information about the film.

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    DeLynn Zielinski
    Instructional Leader Coach
    ECDEC
    Arlington Hts IL
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  • 19.  RE: Cross dressing in childcare centers settings

    Posted 21 days ago
    Hello from the preschool doctor.

    Most preschools have a dress code, in an attempt to make it more professional appearance. I have no problem with that. Once we had a teacher that never wore a bra, sometimes you just have to let it go.
    Sincerely Melanie

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    Melanie Smith
    The Preschool Doctor
    thepreschooldoctor.com
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