A few years ago, while visiting Karl in the kindergarten classroom where he taught, Sasha noticed that the students’ names were listed on separate clipboards by gender. Parents had to sign their child out when they picked them up at the end of the day, and the separate lists for boys and girls made things “easier.” “What about the kids who aren’t either one?” Sasha asked. “Which clipboard do they go on?”
Karl’s kindergarten list highlights the frequency of gender segregation. Karl is supportive of Sasha’s gender identity and is certainly aware of the difficulties they endure because of binary separation, but he still organizes his own classroom using gender. This reflects how commonplace binary understanding of gender is in society.
By the time the new school year came around, Sasha had made Karl two new clipboards that separated his students into two lists of “A—M and N—Z.” A few years later, Karl had a boy in his class who wore a princess dress and girl “who talked about maybe being a boy someday.” “Turned out, Sasha was right,” Karl says. “Kindergartners don’t want to be pigeonholed.”
Like Sasha, Karl’s students don’t want to have their gender projected on to them by others. Since Karl has future students who benefit from this nonbinary approach, it is safe to assume that his boy/girl clipboards have alienated nonbinary students in the past.