Talking to Children About Gender

DES MOINES, Iowa –One organization wants parents to know there are resources for certain questions children might ask regarding gender.

According to Iowa Safe Schools, children begin to develop their gender as early as two or three years old.

Executive Director of Iowa Safe Schools, Nate Monson said students are asking questions as early as preschool when it comes to gender.

“We see these students asking questions about gender at preschool and kindergarten. When, they ask these questions you need to give a response. It’s not something you should ever say ‘that’s not until later.’ You should give them a thoughtful and matter of fact response,” Monson said.

Monson said there are books to educate children on the subject, and help parents who might not know how to answer questions.

“They [the books] talk about gender or sexuality in a very age appropriate manner. So, at the elementary level we are just having those conversations. Some families have two moms or two dads. For gender, it could be someone may have been born a boy and they are really a girl,” Monson said.

Monson said parents can find a variety of books at the store or public library.

Some examples that Iowa Safe Schools has on the shelf include: “Introducing Teddy”, “Jacob’s New Dresses” and “10,000 Dresses.”

Monson said it is important for parents to let their child be himself or herself.

“Let the students be themselves. There is nothing that is impeding on them [parents]. It’s not hurting them, to let a child, if a little boy wants to play with dolls that’s totally ok and great. It should be supported and praised. Is that little boy going to be gay or trans? Maybe, maybe not, but let that student be themselves,” Monson said.

Iowa Safe Schools answers phone calls every day from parents and teachers asking for ways to educate children on the subject of gender.