Resource Connections: Fostering understanding of gender and sexual diversity

March 25, 2019
By Joan Elliott, Librarian/Manager, Stewart Resources Centre

Fostering understanding of gender and sexual diversity

In 2015, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education released a foundational document entitled Deepening the Discussion: Gender and Sexual Diversity. This was developed to assist school divisions, First Nations and Métis organizations and schools in promoting understanding of gender and sexual diversity as well as to foster shared responsibility for ensuring equity, inclusiveness and safety for all members of the school community.

Appendices on oppression and privilege, related curriculum outcomes for Grades 1 to 12, how to create student alliances and how to prevent and respond to harassment, as well as checklists for teachers and schools make it a highly practical guide. The document is available at

Two noteworthy videos that explore gender identity and sexual diversity are available on ROVER. In Singing Home the Bones: A Poet Becomes Himself, a documentary about Gregory Scofield, the Métis poet discusses his search for his identity and his acceptance of his sexuality. It is an approved resource for senior English language arts curricula.

Two Spirited is the story of Rodney Poucette, a gay man who experienced prejudice when he competed as a jingle dress dancer. This video is a recommended resource for secondary wellness, life transitions and arts education curricula.

Other resources for high school students are Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, by Kirstin Cronn-Mills, a novel recommended for English Language Arts 20, which describes the transitioning experiences of a transgender teen; and Luna, by Julie Anne Peters, which is approved for English Language Arts 30. It follows the story of a teen who keeps the secret of her older sibling’s transgender identity and later assists her with coming out and transitioning.

Holly’s Secret, by Nancy Garden, a novel approved for Grade 6 English language arts, is about a young girl who moves from the city to the country and wants to keep it secret that she has two moms. Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life, a new novel by Beverley Brenna who is a curriculum studies professor at the College of Education, University of Saskatchewan, is suitable for upper elementary students. Narrated in turn by nine-year-old Jeannie and her pet hamster Sapphire, it is a touching story of a girl whose parents divorce after her dad reveals he is gay. The story also details how Jeannie and her mother develop a friendship with their transgender neighbour.

Several non-fiction young adult books are also available. Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community, by Robin Stevenson, outlines the history of LGBTQ pride parades and events and how they are celebrated around the world today. The Gender Quest Workbook: A Guide for Teens and Young Adults Exploring Gender Identity, by Rylan Jay Testa, Deborah Coolhart and Jayme Peta, features practical activities to assist adolescents in coming to understand their gender. Helpful chapters on gender identity and expression, navigating gender with one’s family and school, dating and sex, balancing multiple identities and dealing with stressful situations are included.

A volume suitable for therapists, counsellors, parents, and those interested in understanding gender diversity and options for transition is Counseling Transgender and Non-Binary Youth: The Essential Guide, by Irwin Krieger. In addition to explaining the basics of gender identity and expression, it also provides advice on assessment of gender identity, mental health issues, social and medical transitions, and family and personal relationships.

Gender: Your Guide: A Gender-Friendly Primer on What to Know, What to Say, and What to Do in the New Gender Culture, by Lee Airton, features valuable suggestions for changing language and daily practices to be more inclusive and flexible.

To borrow these or other resources, please email