The times they are a-changin’, but that doesn’t mean everyone’s changing with the times. A teacher in Denair, California learned this lesson the hard way after handing out “Gender Unicorn” worksheets to students without first getting permission from the school or parents.
Luis Davila Alvarado handed out the Gender Unicorn worksheet, which was created by the Trans Student Educational Resources organization, to about 50 students in early August as an icebreaker exercise. Alvarado uses the courtesy title “Mx.” instead of “Mr.” and wanted students to understand why, according to The Modesto Bee.
Below, see the full Gender Unicorn worksheet, as created by TransStudent.org:
At TSER’s website, the organization provides further context for much of the information on this worksheet, including:
Gender Identity: Gender Identity: One’s internal sense of being male, female, neither of these, both, or another gender(s). Everyone has a gender identity, including you. For transgender people, their sex assigned at birth and their own internal sense of gender identity are not the same. Female, woman, and girl and male, man, and boy are also NOT necessarily linked to each other but are just six common gender identities.
Gender Expression/Presentation: The physical manifestation of one’s gender identity through clothing, hairstyle, voice, body shape, etc. Most transgender people seek to make their gender expression (how they look) match their gender identity (who they are), rather than their sex assigned at birth.– Trans Student Educational Resources
“He gave a handout discussing gender in first and second periods. It was not an assignment and students were not required or asked to fill it out,” Metzger told the Bee.
Metzger also said that Alvarado did not seek permission from the school’s principal, Amanda Silva, who happened to be in the classroom when the worksheets were being distributed to students.
According to Metzger, Principal Silva just “happened to be in his second-period class as part of her routine visits on the first day of school. When she saw the content of the handout, she spoke with the teacher and directed him to stop distributing it.”
Metzger notes that gender identity and other issues are covered in the school’s curriculum, just not in science class, where the Gender Unicorn worksheets were disseminated.
“The principal and I have spoken with the teacher about why we believe this was a poor decision,” Metzger said. “Any discipline is a private matter between the district and employee.”
Notably, this worksheet did not upset parents en masse, although there were a few concerned voices.
“I talked to a lot of parents and a lot of grandparents,” a woman says in the video embedded above. “And I know a lot of them have called the school and complained about it,” she says, referencing the worksheet.
Still, Superintendent Metzger says that it boils down more to a communication/permission issue than a content one.
“It was probably not appropriate,” Metzger says, “Just in the way the handout looked. It looked like it needed to be filled out. And so it was just probably the wrong tool.”
We applaud Alvarado for giving it the old college try — it was a noble effort, after all — and with them more success next time.
Matt is a writer, editor, and content strategist currently based in Washington state. He has worked as a managing editor for the iconic I Can Has Cheezburger, Celebuzz (a SpinMedia site), and now Mamas Uncut. He also acted as the Social Media Director for CafeMom.