Gender & Inclusivity Statement
SVCMS is committed to providing an environment within which all employees, faculty, students, volunteers and others are treated with respect and that is free of harassment. SVCMS prohibits conduct that is disrespectful, disparaging or unprofessional as well as harassment based on race, color, national origin, ancestry, creed, religion, sex (which includes marital status and pregnancy), sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression (which includes transgender), disability or need for special education services or any other basis protected by federal or state law.
As Montessorians, we know that children construct themselves through interactions with their environment and therefore know themselves best. We listen when children tell us about their identities and follow the child as always. SVCMS respects the individuality of each child and nurtures a sense of wonder and curiosity about our differences. Gender is complex and unique to each individual, and we acknowledge the individual journey of every child as they explore their own identity. SVCMS affirms youth of all gender identities: agender, cisgender, gender-fluid, non-binary, transgender, and any other genuine expression or exploration of gender identity.
Gender Across Levels
Montessori is a child-centered, developmental approach to education. As such, gender and identity topics are addressed using age-appropriate language and concepts. Many times these discussions are initiated by the children’s questions, observations, and connections.
In our Children’s House, as a part of Grace and Courtesy lessons like Shaking Hands, Introducing Self, and Introducing Others, children learn about using a person’s correct name and pronouns. When working on language skills, children use Learned Word Lists that include gender-neutral pronouns. During Family Sorting work, children are able to create a family using figures featuring different genders, ages, ethnicities, and abilities. Children learn about each other’s identities and families through family photos and self-portraits displayed in classrooms. Our classroom libraries also include books that feature a variety of families with different genders, ethnicities, and abilities represented.
In our Lower Elementary classrooms, students learn about gender pronouns (she/he/they) as a part of the Grammar curriculum. As a part of our Reader’s Workshop, children learn about identity and the many types of identities we each hold as an individual, a member of a family, and part of a larger community. A lesson using the book Who Are You? by Brook Pessin-Whedbee introduces concrete terminology for gendered language, gender pronouns, and gender expansiveness. Within Art class, students have the opportunity to draw and share their self-portraits. Staff affirm identity expression in clothing and hair style choices, and strive to support students wherever they are in their exploration of their identities.
In our Upper Elementary classrooms, our students learn about gender pronouns (she/he/they) as a part of the Grammar curriculum. Additionally, during lessons about the History of Language, the translation of gendered words into English is discussed. Students also notice types of gender equality when studying historical fiction in literature groups. Guides continue to support students in their identity formation, as individuals and community members.
In our Middle School, most of our students’ work with gender occurs as they navigate systems and the wider world. In the Peace curriculum, students participate in lessons about different types of identities we all hold and experience. In SEL Improv and Performance lessons, students explore self-expression—including their gender expression— during character work, along with work on perceptions, stereotypes, and conflict resolution. During skills lessons, students continue to learn about pronouns during Grammar work, including differences between English, Latin, and Spanish. In addition, students often initiate discussions in literature groups around how a character’s gender influences their choices and behavior. Staff and students work to acknowledge and support each student’s individual identity, especially in preparation for the transition to high school. Adolescents at SVCMS may initiate creation of a gender communication plan on their own if desired.
Family Resources within SVCMS
Families with gender-expansive children have the option of working with staff to build a gender communication plan. The purpose of these plans is to create a channel for communicating important steps and information to those who need to know. These plans are not intended to pathologize day-to-day gender expression and exploration. Rather, they create a shared understanding among the student’s support networks and school systems about how to affirm the student’s identity and protect their privacy.
While a plan may not seem necessary at first, it may become increasingly important as children age. At different timepoints, families may need to make decisions to protect their child’s privacy, affirm their identity, and help them to navigate systems. Some examples include:
Announcing desired name or pronoun changes to peers.
Ensuring the SVCMS-managed Gmail accounts issued in 6th year use the child’s chosen name.
Changing the displayed name and gender in Infinite Campus, which many schools use to build rosters, generate reports, and communicate directly with families and older students.
Changing pronouns in Infinite Campus to reflect the student’s identity, which will be especially important as students begin using it to register for classes and receive communications.
Transitioning to high school or other schools, ensuring that students are met with the correct name and pronouns from day one.
If your family would like to consider a gender communication plan, please reach out to your child’s Lead Guide or Program Level Leader.
Additional Resources for Families
SVVSD Policies and Resource Page: Our school district’s page on supporting LGBTQ students contains anti-discrimination policies, guidelines, and many resources for families.
Gender Spectrum Resource Page: Educational and informative short documents on a broad range of topics, from understanding gender to knowing one’s rights, which includes great resources for adolescents as well. Here are two of our favorites:
OUT Boulder County Youth Programs: OBC has weekly youth groups in Boulder and Longmont for queer adolescents, along with other youth resources such as internships and a gender-affirming apparel closet. They also have resources for parents/guardians.
TYES – Trans Youth Education and Support: This is a local support group for gender variant children and their families. Contact them for information about meetings and resources.
Colorado Name Change Project: Information and guidance on changing name and gender in public documents for the state of Colorado.
SVVSD Name & Gender Change Form: Families can initiate a name and/or gender change in Infinite Campus by filling out and returning this document. Pronouns can be changed in Infinite Campus at any time by emailing Cindy Moran.
Additional Resources for Staff
SVVSD Gender Identity Guidance Document: This is a one-page reference for supporting gender-expansive students.
Gender Spectrum’s Gender Across the Grades: This is a brief reference for how gender presentation can vary across the planes of development.