Andrea Aribe, 130 YinD
“Is he gay?” a teacher asked.
Instantaneously, I engaged in a 10-second heated conversation with myself:
“Why would she ask such a thing?
Just because he doesn’t like to play sports and would rather cook doesn’t mean he’s gay.
Just because I’m bisexual doesn’t mean I’m an expert on who’s gay and who’s not.
It’s not even my place to say if someone is gay (or straight), and it doesn’t matter.”
I knew this was not the time and place for a gender lesson.
Instead, with intention of revisiting this topic at a more appropriate time, I replied, “He’s my friend.”
The following week, I facilitated my first activity about gender to my students in which they had to list out characteristics of men and women.
Yes, the teacher mentioned was present.
Courage, empathy, intelligence, kindness, leadership and strength – unfortunately, all traits that have been viewed as either feminine or masculine by society.
Together, we talked about how these characteristics do not define gender identity or sexuality.
How did I do that with my limited Thai language skills?
I do not know, and honestly, I am not sure if everyone left class with a full understanding of what was taught.
However, it was a start.
After all, that is why we have 27 months – to plant as many seeds as we can.
With my remaining time here, I will keep attempting to empower my students as human beings capable of anything.
I may never know if these children will break these gender norms as adults, but I 100% believe in them.
Of course, it is worth a try.