Teach kids about 100 genders?

BBC teaching resource: there are "100, if not more" gender identities

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Should the BBC teach children about 100 genders?

By Daniel J. McLaughlin

Gender is no longer a binary option, between a man or a woman, with the possibilities seemingly endless.

It can be difficult to put a number on how many gender identities they are out there - but a teaching resource by the BBC says it could be "100, if not more".

However, the public broadcaster has been accused of "the upholding of... noxious nonsense" for their educational films.

The Claim

A series of films produced by the BBC, used to support teachers in the classroom, address the number of gender identities out there, The Times reports.

BBC Teach has told teachers who work with nine to 12-year-olds that there are "100, if not more" gender identities.

The films are used to support the personal, social and health education (PSHE) curriculum in schools.

They show a question-and-answer session between a boy and a teacher. He asks: "What are the different gender identities?" He is commended for the question, and the film cuts to PSHE teacher Kate Daniels.

She explains: "We know that we have got male and female, but there are over 100, if not more, gender identities now."

The teacher tells two children in the film that some people are "bi-gender", explaining that they feel two genders at once.

She adds: "And then you've got some people who might call themselves gender-queer, who are just like: 'I don't really want to be anything in particular, I am just going to be me.'"

The Counterclaim

However, the Telegraph's Celia Walden criticises the BBC for the film, warning that it will "leave us with a generation of lost, confused and angry young adults".

She says that self-expression has been "fetishised", arguing that 'expressing yourself' no longer means "appreciating individuality and producing something of a wider cultural value".

Instead, she writes, it means "folding in on yourself and behaving in an unashamedly selfish way".

Walden argues: "And beyond my horror at the propagation of misinformation and the upholding of this noxious nonsense by a corporation whose journalistic duty it is to deal not in fads, but facts, is the fear that we’ll make this new generation of children as self-obsessed as the supposed grown-ups wilfully warping their minds."

The Facts

There is no universal agreement on how many genders there are, and the predictions range from traditional binary to nearly a 100 genders.

The Royal College of General Practitioners released a position statement in June, admitting that GPs are "not experienced in treating and managing patients with gender dysphoria and trans health issues".

They said that there is an urgent need to increase the number of gender identity specialists and clinics.

In their position statement, the RCGP recognises six genders: male, female, gender-neutral, non-binary, gender-fluid, and gender-queer.

The 2016 Australian Sex Survey recognised 33 gender identities, which include man and woman, as well as transgender men and women, gender non-conforming, agender, intersex, androgyny, among a host of other identities.

In 2014, Facebook allowed UK users to choose from 71 gender options, including asexual, polygender and two-spirit person. They were also allowed to choose their own pronouns: male (he/his), female (she/her) or neutral (they/their).

While sex and gender are often used interchangeably, they are two different things. Sex is defined by our biology, which can vary from the gender, which is a mental, societal and cultural concept.

Gender can change from the call made at birth, and the understanding about identity comes to most people fairly early in life. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, by the age of four, most children have "a stable sense of their gender identity".

While the sense of gender is strong from this early age, it is a complex subject, whether you are a toddler or a grown-up trying to grasp your identity.

Gender is the "complex interrelationship between three dimensions": body (the physical realities), identity (what one feels) and expression (presenting the gender to the world). Delving further into the three dimensions of gender, there are further sub-categories and extensions.

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The Times

BBC films teach children of '100 genders, or more'

The BBC has told teachers who work with children aged 9-12 that there are "100, if not more" gender identities.

Children are seeking in record numbers to change their gender because they feel they were born in the wrong body, and the advice has sparked concerns that it could fuel confusion.

The claim appears in a series of nine films created by BBC Teach to support the personal, social and health education (PSHE) curriculum in schools.

In one question-and-answer session a young boy asks: "What are the different gender identities?" He is then praised by a head teacher for asking a "really, really exciting question".

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