The Gingerbread Man is a well-known children’s fairy story. You may remember the ditty – “Run, run, as fast as you can; you can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man”. This story is an imaginary tale for little children about an elderly man and his wife who chase a biscuit through the streets of their village so that they can eat him for supper. Similarly named, and using the Gingerbread shape, the educational program the ‘Genderbread Person’ is also, in my opinion, a fairy tale which, at best, stretches the imagination and takes the student to imaginary places. Except, it’s not treated as a fairy tale.
Unfathomably, after being banned in NSW schools, the Genderbread Person is being taught to students in year 10 Queensland high school as fact. This should alarm every Queensland parent. The philosophy behind the Genderbread Person program is that gender is fluid. So fluid in fact, that the Genderbread Person program instructs students their gender is on a spectrum which can change many times a day, swinging from male to female or anywhere in between. If you are tempted to think there is no harm in this unscientific gobbledygook, as in the childhood Gingerbread Man story, look closer.
The Genderbread Person material is outdated and misogynist, using stereotyped examples that are breathtakingly offensive. In purporting the ideology that gender is flexible, the author of the program gives an exampleof how this plays out in a normal week for a student, going on to describe male traits as eating like a Viking, and female traits as prowling, skipping, playfully placing items of clothing out to wear, and pleading with your partner to help you decide what it is you should wear that day.
Not only is this offensive, it is dangerous for year 10 students to be exposed to such nonsensical rubbish. Queensland Opposition Leader, Deb Frecklington, was correct in calling it out as such. Ask any DV counsellor whether pleading with a partner to know what to wear might be a signal of control. Check with our female athletes who have just competed in the weight lifting at the Commonwealth Games if they feel comfortable with the depictions of femaleness found in this example.
If you had told me ten years ago that in 2018 year 10 students in Queensland would be learning stereotypical male and female roles I would have laughed at you. Surely we are past this?
There is no scientific basis for this hypothesis. But in this radical new epoch that we have entered, post same-sex marriage as Queensland’s Education Minister Grace Grace pointed out when asked about the Genderbread Person material, it seems that there has been a massive shift in what we think we are supposed to say and believe. We want to be found on the right side of the question.
So, when our children are being taught about gender with a playful gingerbread man shape illustration at school, we just assume that it must be ok and stay silent. No one is denying that gender dysphoria is real and students who identify on any spectrum must be treated with respect and yes, love!
Bullying of anyone is wrong, particularly for children, and action must be taken to prevent and to educate on respect and acceptance and prevention. Schools throughout our State are using excellent materials to do just this. But paternalistic and misogynist attitudes also exist and they contribute to bullying and go on to facilitate domestic violence. It’s never right to teach one wrong to try and make another wrong right.
To teach our children that their gender fluctuates from maleness to femaleness depending on how they feel, exhibited through their eating mannerisms or their inability to decide what to wear, is indefensible.
Life is not a fairy tale.
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