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 Post subject: Parents keep child's gender secret
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 1:39 pm 
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Baby Storm's family has chosen not to assign a gender to their child.

http://www.parentcentral.ca/parent/babi ... der-secret

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 Post subject: Re: Parents keep child's gender secret
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 2:12 pm 
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There was another family that did that, in Sweden, a few years ago. http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2009 ... er-secret/ That story is from when the baby was 2 1/2 -- the child would be 4 1/2 now, but I can't find any follow-up stories on what's happened since then.


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 Post subject: Re: Parents keep child's gender secret
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 2:31 pm 
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Jayme Poisson wrote:
They worried the children would be ridiculed. Friends said they were imposing their political and ideological values on a newborn. Most of all, people said they were setting their kids up for a life of bullying in a world that can be cruel to outsiders.


How much cognitive dissonance are people capable of?! The kind of people who put importance in the gender binary are those who will criticize gender-neutral parenting and, of course, those who will do the ridiculing and bullying. If they stop making such a big deal out of it and worrying about the children, then they will probably make the world easier for said children. Besides, I know two feminine boys who are respected and popular at school for who they are and what they do. The only time their looks actually matter is when girls get crushes on them (which happens quite frequently).

Also, how many times will people use the indoctrination argument against alternative types of parenting? All parenting is indoctrination, but it is not recognized as such if it is mainstream. Once a parent asks their kid to actually question the world in which we live, that's when there's trouble and talk of over-politicizing the home.

I'm sure this story could be used to confirm someone's narrow views of "loopy liberals" (to use Bill O'Reilly-esque terminology), but Storm's parents sound cool, sensitive and worldly. My guess would be that they've thought about this a hell of a lot more than someone who goes out and buys baseball-print pajamas when they find out that their fetus is male.

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 Post subject: Re: Parents keep child's gender secret
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 2:45 pm 
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The article seems to understand these things as well as I do. I mean as poorly?

article wrote:
While there’s nothing ambiguous about Storm’s genitalia, they aren’t telling anyone whether their third child is a boy or a girl. The only people who know are Storm’s brothers, Jazz, 5, and Kio, 2, a close family friend and the two midwives who helped deliver the baby in a birthing pool at their Toronto home on New Year’s Day.


Are we saying that no one's disclosing the sex of the baby? As in, sure, some people know what genitals the baby was born with, but they're not saying.

Or are we saying that no one's disclosing the gender of the baby? But if gender is "the software," and is about identity, more than physiology, then how do the midwives—or parents—know the baby's gender?

Or did I get these thyings all backwards again?

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 Post subject: Re: Parents keep child's gender secret
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 2:54 pm 
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Basically, they're not assigning a gender to the child, and they're not encouraging other people to assign a gender to the child either. Since people generally decide what gender they want to assign a child based on what kind of genitals the child has, they are avoiding letting people know what kind of genitals the child has, so that they can't use that information to assign a gender to the child.

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 Post subject: Re: Parents keep child's gender secret
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 3:03 pm 
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Okay. So the midwives, for example, know the sex/physiology of the kid, but not the gender/identity of the kid. Which is true for every kid. Although, for most kids, sex and gender line up.

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 Post subject: Re: Parents keep child's gender secret
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 5:14 pm 
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I really commend the parents for doing this. I think it takes some courage. I'm kinda surprised that purple are giving them a hard time, but I'm also not surprised. People like things in nice, neat categories and not declaring the sex confuses, and therefore angers people. But gender the way it is constructed today should be challenged and I like that this family is making such a bold statement.


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 Post subject: Re: Parents keep child's gender secret
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 5:28 pm 
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I liked the article a lot. I didn't comment because I'm not sure I really have anything to offer other than I really appreciated reading the article, so thank you for posting it, choirqueer. I was struck by (and am still thinking about) the sentence that stated: "by not making a choice, the parents are still making a choice" or something to that effect.

I don't know why, but I'm still thinking about it.

The parents are really interesting in a lot of different ways, in how they are choosing to raise their children and school their children. And no, I'm not saying "interesting" and raising my eyebrows in a condescending way. Like, I'm legitimately interested in it. I don't have children, so I have no clue if raising a child this way would be difficult or different, but it is very outside of the "norm" and very cool to read about. I do wonder what happened to Pop (in the article Larisa cited, above)- are the parents still raising Pop "genderless?"


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 Post subject: Re: Parents keep child's gender secret
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 5:36 pm 
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I am utterly skeptical of the unschooling movement. Not a giant fan of traditional schools, but I'm unconvinced that most unschooled kids actually learn anything.

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 Post subject: Re: Parents keep child's gender secret
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 5:44 pm 
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I love this. For one thing, it's a great way to ward off the storm of gendered baby toys at your baby shower. I look forward to hearing more updates.

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 Post subject: Re: Parents keep child's gender secret
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 5:45 pm 
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FootFace wrote:
The article seems to understand these things as well as I do. I mean as poorly?

article wrote:
While there’s nothing ambiguous about Storm’s genitalia, they aren’t telling anyone whether their third child is a boy or a girl. The only people who know are Storm’s brothers, Jazz, 5, and Kio, 2, a close family friend and the two midwives who helped deliver the baby in a birthing pool at their Toronto home on New Year’s Day.


Are we saying that no one's disclosing the sex of the baby? As in, sure, some people know what genitals the baby was born with, but they're not saying.

Or are we saying that no one's disclosing the gender of the baby? But if gender is "the software," and is about identity, more than physiology, then how do the midwives—or parents—know the baby's gender?

Or did I get these thyings all backwards again?


I noticed that the journalist seemed confused, but that the parents' answers were straightforward: they're not telling the child's sex (so that strangers won't assume a gender).


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 Post subject: Re: Parents keep child's gender secret
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 5:54 pm 
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Did anyone see this: http://sententiola.tumblr.com/post/5076 ... ion-so-far

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 Post subject: Re: Parents keep child's gender secret
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 6:03 pm 
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I spend a lot of time around preschool aged children and a surprising number of them are allowed to make decisions about how masculine/feminine they will dress and act. This continues up into elementary school. Should Storm wish to be a rough and tumble boy are the parents going to respect that as well? They are performing a social experiment on their child and I don't know if I am comfortable with that.

I see kids playing with dolls and trucks, regardless of gender. In my experience, parents are not as rigidly tied to gender expectations these days as these parents believe. And I don't live in some liberal, hippie enclave.

FF, I'm with you on the unschooling thing.

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 Post subject: Re: Parents keep child's gender secret
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 6:33 pm 
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Vantine wrote:
They are performing a social experiment on their child and I don't know if I am comfortable with that.
I think that this is what I might have needed someone to say... why that one sentence was resonating with me for some reason. The parents made a choice (to not choose) for this child, but what happens when/if the child decides? I don't know, so much to wrap my head around. I guess the parents don't quite know yet, either? It's nice to hear that parents nowadays don't seem as wrapped up in the social/gender roles, as Vantine stated.

(unless she totally lives in a hippie enclave and just doesn't know it.)


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 Post subject: Re: Parents keep child's gender secret
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 6:33 pm 
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Vantine wrote:
I see kids playing with dolls and trucks, regardless of gender. In my experience, parents are not as rigidly tied to gender expectations these days as these parents believe. And I don't live in some liberal, hippie enclave.

In my experience, I still see a lot of gender assigning. It seems to me that gender expectations get stronger with age. Most people allow babies and very young children to play with dolls or trucks or whatever. I see the same to a lesser extent with older children, as if it was phase they should have grown out of. But I don't think toys is where most of the gendering happens. A lot of it comes from clothes, miscellaneous baby gear, and language.

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 Post subject: Re: Parents keep child's gender secret
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 6:48 pm 
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Meggs wrote:
I was struck by (and am still thinking about) the sentence that stated: "by not making a choice, the parents are still making a choice" or something to that effect.

I love that quote! It's so Samuel Beckett.

FootFace wrote:
I am utterly skeptical of the unschooling movement. Not a giant fan of traditional schools, but I'm unconvinced that most unschooled kids actually learn anything.

I don't think I've ever met someone who has purposely never attended school, but I know a few who were homeschooled for their elementary years, and it seems like a good idea. Are homeschooling and unschooling different? Personally, the early years were hellish. Kids were mean, teachers couldn't teach me (which I understand because everyone in a public school classroom must be at the same level and pace), and the advanced classes were the only fraction of the day that mattered. I wish I could have done more exploring of the world and learned at my own speed, like Storm's parents describe, but it seems like that approach is limited to the somewhat affluent. Both of my parents worked, and the way I see it is that school (the lower grades like pre-school and kindergarten) doesn't only exist to provide children with educational and societal building blocks. It is also a convenient place where parents can drop their kids off and know that they'll be okay for the most part.

That was my version of not really helping. Oops!

Vantine wrote:
Should Storm wish to be a rough and tumble boy are the parents going to respect that as well? They are performing a social experiment on their child and I don't know if I am comfortable with that.

From what I understood, the whole point is that Storm is expected to make hir own decisions about gender and presentation, rather than being influenced by what society expects merely because of hir undisclosed genitalia. It's not that the parents are opposed to gender, as your hypothetical question implies. They just want Storm to figure out what it means to be Storm, no matter what side of the spectrum ze gravitates toward.

I don't think this is any more a social experiment than parents of different religions raising a child. If they elect to participate in some of both faiths' traditions, then they leave the choice up to the child as to which religion ze would like to follow, or both, or even neither, as the case was with my brother and me.

If the so-called experiment concerned the mutilation of genitals, then that would be a completely different matter. Here, though, it's all about software.

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 Post subject: Re: Parents keep child's gender secret
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 7:05 pm 
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My understanding is that unschooling entails the absence of academic expectations, requirements, and evaluation of any kind. Education is held to be 100% kid-driven.

Homeschooling could be academically rigorous (or rigid or conventional) if that's what the patents chose.

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 Post subject: Re: Parents keep child's gender secret
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 7:15 pm 
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So... unschooling is playtime? I think we need some unschoolers to school us on this schooling business.

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 Post subject: Re: Parents keep child's gender secret
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 7:22 pm 
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I think unschooling is when there is a lack of structure, but learning it still going on. I remember reading something about a mother who unschooled her kids and the "lessons" were activities, for example pancakes. The kids were talking about pancakes, and the mom would ask them to cut the recipe in half (work on fractions), she would then discuss the origins of pancakes and things like nutritional information, and which ingredient did what. Then for the rest of the day, they would go to a museum, something educational.

I don't think unschooling is something I could do or agree with but, if done well, I think it could work.

Edited for weird wording and bad punctuation.

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Last edited by Niev on Sun May 22, 2011 7:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Parents keep child's gender secret
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 7:22 pm 
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Elementary school is also where many learning and behavior disorders are diagnosed. Kindergarten is designed to teach kids what school is about. They start to learn routine and listening and waiting their turn. I think that its really disrespectful of educators and parents as a whole to suggest that it's a parking lot for kids while parents work.

I asked that question because both of their boys are described as being more feminine. By social experiment I simply mean that they have no idea (and neither do we) what the consequences of their decision for their child will be.

Homeschooling generally involves a curriculum of some sort but the quality varies greatly. I would say that for every 10 homeschooled kids I see at the library, one or two is getting a great education. Teaching is a skill and not everyone is good at it.

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 Post subject: Re: Parents keep child's gender secret
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 7:31 pm 
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That description of unschooling doesn't sound like what goes on at Sudbury schools.

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 Post subject: Re: Parents keep child's gender secret
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 7:35 pm 
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From the FAQ of the Sudbury Valley School (the original Sudbury-style school):
Quote:
Almost anything you can imagine people doing in a large family – in a really large family because we have 210 kids – they're doing here today. That means that some of them will be studying traditional subjects in a traditional manner and most of them won't. So if you think of going to a large party with 200 people, there will be people stuck away in a corner reading some book they found on the shelf, other people stuck away in a corner reading some book they brought with them, and lots of other people mixing in various ways, or doing sports and things like that, playing Dungeons and Dragons or cards.

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 Post subject: Re: Parents keep child's gender secret
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 7:38 pm 
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But it's only $7,000 a year.

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 Post subject: Re: Parents keep child's gender secret
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 7:41 pm 
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Unschooling really depends on both the kid and the parent. Like, I think I probably would have done pretty well with it, but I was a kid who thought that a fabulous use of my free time was to go to the library and get a book and learn calculus or French, and I'd spend all day at school just watching the clock waiting until I could go home and read. And I knew what French and calculus were because my parents talked about things that they were reading or learning all the time, and they'd answer my questions and help me find more information about whatever I wanted to know more about. And my parents would follow my interests -- when I got interested in Native American cultures, my mom took me to the Museum of the American Indian. She took me to the wildlife center nearby a whole lot. My dad would come home from work each day and tell us about some interesting cases he had (he's a lawyer) and talk about why rulings went in one way or the other. I was a "Really? Tell me more! More!" type of kid, and my mom had a degree in child psychology and education, and I think that unschooling would have worked OK for us. But I know plenty of other kids and parents where it just wouldn't have worked as well -- no one's fault, just that it wouldn't have been the right option for those circumstances.


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 Post subject: Re: Parents keep child's gender secret
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 8:22 pm 
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Vantine wrote:
Elementary school is also where many learning and behavior disorders are diagnosed. Kindergarten is designed to teach kids what school is about. They start to learn routine and listening and waiting their turn. I think that its really disrespectful of educators and parents as a whole to suggest that it's a parking lot for kids while parents work.

Huh, okay. My point was not "schools are kennels! teachers suck!" If you'll remember, I mentioned that early schooling provides children with educational and societal building blocks, but I should have also mentioned social. In other words, we agree.

I think school as an idea is wonderful, but its execution sometimes lacks, just like home- and un-schooling sound like good ideas, yet they have potential to fail. My best friend's mom is a middle school teacher and special education coordinator, who had thought about taking time off to homeschool when she had Seamus. However, as he got older, she noticed that something was "off" about him and realized that he was mildly autistic. She worked with him, using flashcards and demonstrations to teach him about facial expressions, gestures and tones of voice. While Seamus probably would have been okay staying at home (as he's an introvert, hyperfocuses on and obsesses over anything that interests him, and makes his own fun), nothing helped him more than interacting with large numbers of other children his own age. So yeah, kindergarten and such are really important, but I'm curious as to how it would have been had my parents been privileged enough to take the time to homeschool or unschool me.

And that's actually the point I made, but I guess it wasn't clear enough. Most parents don't have the kind of time or financial security to do what Storm's parents advocate. Unschooling for the working class would just mean leaving the kids home alone or sacrificing one parent's potential for earning income. They need somewhere for their children to be educated and nurtured because they don't have the opportunity to do the educating and nurturing themselves, and that's precisely why pre and elementary schools are so important. In other words, no, I don't think that's disrespectful to anyone, considering I'm recognizing parents' struggles and teachers' immense and necessary jobs.

Quote:
I asked that question because both of their boys are described as being more feminine. By social experiment I simply mean that they have no idea (and neither do we) what the consequences of their decision for their child will be.

Some families have genetic traits that are more feminine. The brothers I mentioned in my first response were born that way, as their father is effeminate. Another family I know has three daughters, all having inherited their mother's masculinity. The youngest daughters, especially, are rough and tumble. There is no social experimenting going on there, as the parents are traditional Italian Catholics and just wish their kids could be "normal."

I know I'm heavily using anecdotal evidence, but I haven't conducted large-scale psychological and developmental studies yet.

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