How to create an inclusive space for students

Providing a Gender-Inclusive Space Where Students Can Thrive

Welcome all humans!

Here at Jackrabbit we’ve always thought of each other and our clients as a family. I’m sure you can relate. Children spend the majority of their time attending school, participating in after school activities, and at home – which makes your youth activity center, and you, an important part of their day. 

So when it comes to making all students feel welcome, how is your center providing a gender-inclusive space where students can thrive? 

What creating a gender-inclusive space for students looks like

At Jackrabbit, we believe all students should feel welcome, safe and included in their daily lives as their authentic selves. Creating a gender-inclusive space for students means you recognize that and are committed to creating an environment where students can thrive. 

I mean, you thrive when your students thrive. And for a growing number of students, they need a gender-inclusive space like yours to thrive. 

How to create a gender-inclusive space for students

Not all students identify as the gender they were assigned at birth. They may be gender non-conforming, non-binary, or on a journey to discover where they fit on the spectrum. 

Regardless, your students are coming to your center to be healthy and express themselves, to feel powerful, and connect with others. It’s where they go to feel at home, away from home and how you interact with them from the day they walk in the door makes a difference.

Provide an outlet for expression

It can be especially important for these students to feel welcomed because many of them also struggle with body dysphoria. This means they feel out of place in their own body and this can lead to anxiety, depression, and even self-harm. Giving them an outlet for expression and exercise can be both therapeutic and reduce the anxiety and stress of feeling out of sync with their body. 

Use preferred pronouns

You can also create a welcoming environment by using pronouns and names. Unless you know for sure if a student prefers ‘he’ or ‘she’ just use their first name. Offer a ‘nickname’ option and honor it without judgment. 

Not only does using the wrong name and pronouns make a child feel out of place, but using the right ones can actually give a feeling of elation and acceptance that is indescribable. To be seen and spoken to as they really are is an unparalleled confidence booster.

Engage with parents

Parents of non-binary or transgender children will also appreciate having a provider who ‘gets it’ without lengthy explanation or sideways looks is a relief. It goes a long way towards easing what for many parents can be a stressful and difficult time for them as they help their child navigate a world that is conditioned to see gender in black and white, male and female.

Offer gender-neutral or family bathrooms

Oftentimes, one of the biggest stressors for gender non-conforming children is using public restrooms. Facilities that offer gender-neutral or family bathrooms take a small but significant step towards including patrons of all ages who do not fall squarely into society’s rigid definition of male and female. Hey, I can guarantee your patrons who identify as female will appreciate a shorter wait for the restroom!

You don’t have to get it perfect, just be open and remember that all your students are unique, capable, little humans who come to you to learn a skill. And it just may be that Understanding is the best skill in your toolbox.

Ready to join Jackrabbit’s inclusive initiative? Create your free account and begin customizing gender settings at your youth activity center.

How to set up Gender Options in Jackrabbit

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