Leadership & Inclusion

12 Ideas to Help Your Child Be an Upstander at Home and Beyond

You know what a bystander is: someone who is present when something happens, but doesn’t get involved. Sometimes that’s ok, but when a situation is unfair, cruel, or unjust, action is in order.  Parents try to teach their children to stand up for themselves in challenging situations. Parents can also help their children recognize and act on injustice or unfairness. Instead of a bystander, parents can help their children become Upstanders! An Upstander is a person who stands up to support fairness and respect while also trying to decrease bullying and injustice. Magination Press’s book, Stand Up! Be an Upstander and Make a Difference, by Wendy L. Moss, Ph.D, explores what it means to be an Upstander. Dr. Moss offers suggestions for how children can make positive changes in their worlds, while encouraging them to brainstorm ideas of their own. This excerpt from Chapter 8 identifies some ways kids can be Upstanders. At home Use relaxation skills and respectful communication tools during disagreements with siblings or adults. Use positive self-talk to remain confident before working to help others. Spend time with others, including older or younger siblings, showing them you value their company and ideas. At school Try to include instead of exclude. Sometimes it would be helpful and even fun to include a student who seems to be alone or lonely. Talk with other students about what they think needs to be done to make your school more peaceful. Work with others toward this goal using skills learned in Stand Up! Use the power of a smile! Smile and even say hello to lots of different people so that they know you are acknowledging them. In your neighborhood Offer to help out neighbors who find physical tasks challenging by walking their dog, shoveling snow, or taking out their garbage. Fight loneliness. Where appropriate, visit family friends or relatives who may be lonely, or organize a group to visit a local retirement home. Identify ways to help your neighborhood, like picking up litter, creating a safe space for kids to hang out, or helping out at the library, and work with others to solve a problem. In the world Find creative ways to support charities that work on areas important to you. For example, donate one of your birthday gifts, organize a lemonade stand and donate the money earned, or participate in a charity’s walk-a-thon and collect donations for each mile you walk. Help find a cure for a disease that has impacted someone you know. Research the disease and organizations searching for a cure. Raise awareness about the disease and collect donations to fund research. Work toward a big goal, like promoting world peace, by looking for organizations near home that share your goal. Be sure to check with an adult to make sure they feel comfortable with you communicating with the organization, local or otherwise, directly. Being an Upstander means speaking out when you see injustice or bullying. It also means identifying important issues and working toward

Read More
12 Ideas to Help Your Child Be an Upstander at Home and Beyond 2019-10-28T14:24:23-05:00

Words Matter: Respectful and Accurate Vocabulary for Discussing Gender Identity With Your Teen

Understanding gender identity requires having the words to accurately describe it. Kathryn Gonzales and Dr. Karen Rayne included a comprehensive dictionary in their Magination Press book, TRANS+: Love, Sex, Romance, and Being You, a comprehensive, uncensored guide for teens who are transgender, nonbinary, gender-nonconforming, gender-fluid, or questioning their gender identity, and for cis-allies.  This excerpt from the book’s dictionary provides some of the language you and your teen will need to understand and talk about gender. Advocate—A person who is cisgender and works and campaigns for the rights of trans, gender nonconforming, and genderqueer people and others who identify as a gender minority. Agender—A person who identifies as not having a gender; or, being without a gender. Ally—A person who is cisgender and who works with and campaigns in alliance (note the connection to the word ally) with people who area in the gender minority. Androgynous—A balance of the feminine and the masculine that includes aspects of both. Bigender—A person who identifies as having two genders. Biological Sex—A complex group of physical factors that are assigned to male, female, and intersex. The preferred term for this is “sex assigned at birth” because many people consider “biological sex” to be an offensive term at this point. Cisgender—A person whose sex assigned at birth (typically “female” or “male”) is in alignment with their gender identity. Cissexism—Treating cisgender people as though they have more rights and moral authority compared to people who are gender minorities. Cis normative—The assumption that cisgender people are normal and those who are gender minorities are not.  Coming out—Commonly understood as the first time someone discloses their gender identity or sexual orientation, coming out is actually something that gender and sexual minorities do throughout their lifetimes. Gender—A social construct that is often assumed to be aligned with aspects of biological sex, but that is far broader than biological sex. Different cultures have understood gender in dramatically different ways, with some incorporating an understanding of three or more genders. Gender binary—A categorization of gender as being either male or female rather than a spectrum. This is a harmful understanding of gender for all people because it categorizes them in ways that they might not feel comfortable with. Gender confirmation surgery—A group of medical procedures that changes a person’s body to bring it into alignment with their gender identity. Also called gender reassignment surgery; most people prefer the language gender confirmation surgery. Gender dysphoria—When a person’s gender identity is in direct conflict with their physical body, causing mild to extreme psychological distress. “Gender dysphoria” is a classification of mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (DSM IV). Gender expression—The way(s) that a person shares information about their gender through their hair, makeup, clothes, and other external aspects of their appearance that they have control over. Gender fluid—A person who is able to incorporate all genders into their identity and to flow easily between them. Gender identity—A person’s internal sense of how they relate or do

Read More
Words Matter: Respectful and Accurate Vocabulary for Discussing Gender Identity With Your Teen 2019-10-28T14:24:51-05:00

Kindness & Inclusion: Friends with Physical Disabilities

Teaching children to be kind and accepting towards others is a goal most parents value highly. We want our children to know that surface differences are not barriers to good relationships. We want them to experience the qualities that make people more the same than different. Children with physical disabilities are especially likely to appear quite different, but are otherwise likely to share the same interests, strengths, and desires as their non-disabled peers. You can help your child nurture friendships with peers with physical disabilities using tips from Kendra Bennett, Claire Freeland, and Jacqueline Toner, authors of Yes I Can!: A Girl and Her Wheelchair published by Magination Press. When a child with a physical disability is included in a classroom, it provides an opportunity for children with and without differences to socialize together. Perhaps even more importantly, it provides a life lesson in acceptance and inclusion. It offers a chance for children to learn about how to befriend peers who are different from themselves, to include them in play, and to become comfortable with people who have physical disabilities. Children may feel anxious or frightened when they see another child in a wheelchair or wearing braces on their legs. As a parent, you can help your child with their initial hesitation and sensitively guide them towards understanding in an honest and open way. Despite kind impulses to include a child with special needs in play, children may feel at a loss about how to make helpful accommodations. You can partner with the classroom teacher and the child’s parent to make suggestions that allow for inclusion. The following tips will help you nurture your child’s friendships with peers who have physical disabilities: Answer your child’s questions in a clear and reassuring manner. Your child may have worries about their own future well-being. They may wonder about “what happened” to their peer. Help your child identify similarities between themselves and their peer with a disability. Do they share interests? What are the many ways in which the other child is just like every other child? Your child may have questions about how their peer copes with normal daily activities. Deal with this natural curiosity by answering in a matter of fact way. Expose your child to examples presented in the media, in books, and in real life of children and adults with disabilities who are successful socially, academically, and artistically. Remind your child that all children have feelings. Help them to see that a child with a disability will feel as happy to have a kind friend as anyone would and would feel hurt and sad to be left out. Think aloud with your child about ways that they can reach out to and include a peer who may need to do things in a slightly different way. Don’t be afraid to approach the parents of the child with special needs to ask how their child might be included in a birthday party or play date. By supporting your child’s

Read More
Kindness & Inclusion: Friends with Physical Disabilities 2019-10-28T14:25:12-05:00