Sunday, October 10, 2010


I work at the Multicultural Community Center and my boss, Elisa Huerta, shared this really amazing video with me and I wanted to share it with y'all.

The video is a representation of children's book by Karleen Pendleton Jiménez. It is about a little latin@ child named Alex who does and likes "boy" things and gets bullied for it because she's female. The story is told just like a children's book, its clear and simple and makes little kids question things and in the end they are supposed to learn a valuable lesson. Put simply, the lesson is that there aren't supposed to be "boy" and "girl" things and that everyone should be free to be who they are and like what they want. I appreciated the video because in sense it's a reflection of my own life. I wish I would have had hair like Alex when I was a kid, I waited years before cutting my hair off because of fear of being bullied for not just liking "boy" things but for looking like a boy too. Although it seems rare to have kids acting like the "opposite sex," children seem to be pretty inclined to explore different things. Restrictions and rules are applied in school and at home and become internalized in a child's head.

There are other examples of authors writing children's book with similar messages. It is interesting to see how young children think about and act out gender. Tools like these should be used to not just deconstruct gender rolls among children but to stop them from developing in the first place. It seems like gender is stamped on a child as soon as the parents know what the sex of the baby is, and they become more and more gendered as kids go through grade school.


  1. I had never thought deeply about gender themes in children’s literature, but recently another professor of mine shared a children’s book with us called Oliver Button is a Sissy. Instead of liking “boy stuff” he likes to draw, dress up in costumes, and sing and dance. Of course the kids at school bully him and call him a sissy, but he continues to do what he loves despite all of it and the children eventually accept him. Stories like this are great ways to teach children how to be unique and not adhere to gender stereotypes. Personally, as a child, I was on the more “girly” side but also LOVED sports. The boys would play soccer and other games at recess and I remember wanting to join but being too afraid to be judged because none of my other friends liked sports. Childhood should be a time when kids are free to express themselves, begin to find their identities, and not be held back. Today’s society has becoming increasingly difficult for this to happen and I hope that changes.

  2. I just LOVED this video--and actually I remember meeting Karleen years ago when I did work with a queer Latino agency in SF. As the parent of an 8 year old--I see this kind of gender policing all the times. But kids can also be sooooo smart, they "get" ideas about fairness and social justice--and hating on people for being who they are is just wrong. That should be an easy value to teach, no? I think that when we saw all those Prop 8 ads trying to instill fear about teaching kids about gayness in school--this is exactly the kinds of things folks want to keep out of the school. Happy Coming Out Week! Let's all come out against hate and bullying and cruelty.