After our unit on De/Meaning Sex and Gender, I knew I wanted to focus my web event on intersexuality. It’s a form of biological diversity of sex which most people don’t hear about until college, and many not even then.
So I started thinking—when would it make sense for students to first be introduced to intersexuality in an academic setting? I thought back to my own education in biology and the answer, to me, was middle school. In my middle school we had a unit in biology class which was basically “puberty education,” although I don’t remember what its official title was. We learned about the physical changes that male and female bodies go through in puberty—in other words, the changes our own bodies were going through right then. This would have been the perfect time to mention that not everyone would exactly fit into one pattern or another—that chromosomal sex, primary sex characteristics, and secondary sex characteristics don’t always match up. But this was never covered—not in middle school, high school or beyond.
I know that not everyone is given information about sex characteristics or the reproductive system in middle school, or even later. But to me the timing felt right.
I included the permission slip because I think that for many schools this would be part of the process of giving such a lecture.
Sample permission slip: