The Ithaca City School District ‘Anti-marginalization’ unit teaches students to question if they ‘have to be a boy or a girl’ and to ‘normalize the practice’ of using pronouns.


The Ithaca City School District “Anti-marginalization Units of Study” features units that focus on gender identity and skin color. A middle school unit titled “Pronouns, Flags, and Feeling Safe” states that its aim is to “explore the struggles and successes of the LBGQ+ community and ways to be an ally for all people regardless of sexual and gender identity.” A guiding question for the unit asks students “Do I have to be a boy or a girl?”

Assessments for the unit include students designing a “school wide project” that could include students “ask all teachers to list pronouns on their correspondence in order to normalize the practice,” making a list of “films that do not promote gender stereotypes,” “ungendering bathrooms,” and “helping teachers understand how communication home is important.”

Resources listed for the unit include using an “expert” from the local Planned Parenthood and a Planned Parenthood website, as well as TedTalk videos such as “Why I Must Come Out.”

A lesson for grades two through four titled “Why Do I Think This Way?” states that it “explores the social construct of gender and how society defines gender.” The unit will cover concepts such as why students “might not feel safe to express who they are,” that “gender is culturally learned, not biological,” and how society has “dictated what it means to be a boy or girl and this has changed throughout history.”

The unit assessment or “product” includes having students ” create a chart or a video that shows what they think that society wants boys and girls to act, be, or do” or “create a toy advertisement that is free from gender biases or sexism.” The unit also states that students will “examine their own biases around gender and begin to see that these biases are a result of what society has told them about gender through advertisements.”

Another unit of study titled “‘Give Me Some Skin!’, A Case Study about Skin Tone” has kindergarten students “look closely at skin tone as a stepping stone [sic] to understanding themselves and one another.” The lessons seek to “create an atmosphere of openness and comfort when discussing skin tone, color, and race.” It also states that students will “consider the harmful potential of racial stereotypes and will come to understand that no skin color is superior to any other.”