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Standing Up and Speaking Out about Discrimination, Sexuality and Advocacy in Early Childhood

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A week or two ago the co-creator and collaborator of The Aboriginal Early Childhood Conference and Practice Guide, Dr Red Ruby Scarlet launched her online course “My Friend Has Two Mums”. Red had identified a knowledge gap within our profession of what gender and sexuality look like in an early childhood context and this inexpensive accessible course was her strategy to bridge the divide.

Whilst many educators flocked to enrol in this innovative professional development opportunity there were a small number of educators who became outraged at the notion of the word sexuality and early childhood appearing in the same sentence. Not only did these educators disagree with the concept but they went further and decided to personally attack and slander my dear friend and colleague.

Red is a social justice warrior and the leader of the Anti Bias in Early Childhood movement. To see a colleague who I hold in such high esteem be defamed in response to her advocacy work infuriated me to my very core. After stewing, ranting and reflecting I decided that I would use the goals and ethos that Red and I live by and enact the fourth anti bias goal by standing up against prejudice, bigotry and discrimination.

Red and I are no strangers to trolling. When you are a public figure in a political space and are a voice on topics such as gender, sexuality and Indigenous affairs you become an easy target. For the most part our strategy is often to not engage or give bigots any air, however this time it felt different. It was different because it was early childhood educators who had so ruthlessly antagonised and marginalised my friend and I could not believe the level of homophobia that existed within our warm nurturing profession.

So now I sit reflecting. What can I do? How can I stand up?  I believe what is needed is public solidarity. Unity. I’m not suggesting in engaging in a battle of the wills with homophobic internet trolls. I’m asking you to consider what advocacy is. Advocacy isn’t necessarily about marching in protest or chaining yourself to a tree. Advocacy is about your sphere of influence. It’s about sharing information with colleagues, friends and families and it’s about taking a position. This piece of writing is my advocacy. You are my sphere of influence.

It is not ok in this profession to persecute and discriminate against educators based on race, gender, ability or sexuality. Concepts such as anti-bias, anti-racism, anti-discrimination and many social justice issues can make educators feel uncomfortable. Perhaps our levels of comfort are reflective of our knowledge in this area. Do we honestly know what is meant by sexuality in an early childhood context? Do we really have a strong grasp surrounding gender? I think for the most part many of us simply don’t. So lets learn together. Let’s read, lets discuss, lets debate and lets reflect on our current practices.

I encourage those of you who are reading this to:

  • Read the current Anti Bias Curriculum Edited by Dr Red Ruby Scarlet
  • Read Fairs Fair by Lisa Bryant and Dr Red Ruby Scarlet
  • Follow Multiverse on FB and tune in the first Wednesday of every month to watch their free informative fb live profession development sessions
  • Register for the inexpensive, informative and innovative course “My Friend Has Two Mums”
  • Attend this years Social Justice in Early Childhood Conference and join the Social Justice in Early Childhood FB group.
  • Do not tolerate racism, discrimination and homophobia in early childhood online forums. Report, block and ban.
  • Reflect on your personal knowledge and your teams collective knowledge on the diversity of sexuality and gender and how this is applicable to our role as early learning educators.
  • Share this blog with your friends, family and colleagues

 

In Unity,

Jessica Staines

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