DURHAM, N.C. – Hillside High School teacher Holly Jordan thinks schools and teachers should work to snuff out “heteronormativity” – the misguided notion that the God-created roles of male and female are “normal.”
She’s encouraging her fellow educators to challenge “gender norms” by providing “micro-affirmations” to gay and transgender students, incorporating gay lifestyles into the curriculum whenever possible, and countering “micro-aggressions” against sexually abnormal students during class time.
“Gender norms and heteronormativity are being reproduced in our schools everyday despite the fact that there are many people out there who are trying to stop it from happening,” Jordan, the advisor for her school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, told those who attended her presentation at the Network For Public Education National Conference in Raleigh last month, according to The News & Observer.
“That’s a problem happening in our schools,” she said. “It’s our responsibility as educators – and as social justice-oriented human beings – to change that. That just doesn’t benefit LGBT students, transgender students.”
Jordan counts herself among educators who oppose North Carolina’s recently adopted House Bill 2, which requires public institutions to segregate bathroom and other appropriate facilities by biological sex, rather than the gender students or adults “identify” with.
While the Obama countered the law with a unilateral decree that all public schools must let transgender students use whatever facilities they choose, and his Justice Department has sued North Carolina to stop the state law, educators like Jordan are working behind the scenes to inject their views on the issue into their classroom and daily lessons.
According to The News & Observer, “One micro-affirmation, Jordan suggested, is to include on student information sheets the name on the roster and the name that students want to be called,” as well as their preferred pronoun.
Jordan, who teaches English, also suggested that teachers consider using the pronoun “they” as a singular-form pronoun for students who don’t want to be labeled as “he” or “she.”
Other ways educators can crusade for gay rights in their classrooms is by subtly injecting the gay and transgender lifestyle into classroom lessons, Jordan said. Using the improper “they” in singular form for a vocabulary lesson, or structuring a math problem to involve a same sex couple buying a house are perfect examples, she said.
“That just very subtly changes the quote ‘norm,’” she said. “I think in a lot of little ways, teachers can challenge the idea of what’s normal, what a quote, unquote ‘normal family’ looks like, what a normal man looks like.
“Normal isn’t a thing and there’s lots of ways that teachers can teach critical thinking at the same time they’re questioning those things.”
Jordan also apparently likes to make a statement with her clothing, as well.
The News & Observer noted that Jordan donned a “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt for her presentation in Raleigh last month, and was arrested in a political protest against the state’s General Assembly on the Halifax Mall in 2013 wearing a “Public School Teacher” t-shirt.
The social justice warrior is a member of the teacher’s union-aligned Organize 2020, and a member of the group’s “social justice caucus.”