Shorecrest and the Gender Binary


There are so many things I can say on this topic. Gendered language is found in nearly every textbook at Shorecrest. Only having one gender-neutral bathroom in the entire school, which you have to fill out paperwork to use. Having only male and female sports teams. And forcing students to share their pronouns in an attempt to seem up to date.

Just asking what a student’s pronouns are can create a much more inclusive environment.

Well, at least they’re trying. It’s true that I would much rather share my pronouns than have teachers guess what I go by, or have at least it be acknowledged that there is more than just a gender binary. I know of many people who have been misgendered by accident because teachers haven’t asked for pronouns beforehand, or have only asked for pronouns of students who don’t look stereotypically masculine or feminine.

It’s also true that the staff at Shorecrest, as well as the staff throughout the district, haven’t been educated on how to properly address or “handle” students outside the gender binary. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t educate yourself. Or at least try?

“Ladies and Gentlemen”

The most prevalent topic that I’m addressing is binary thinking used in schools. They’re in morning announcements, posters, and lessons taught by various teachers every day. These small microaggressions, such as statements like “Ladies and gentlemen,” can be, and often are, very hurtful to members of the non-binary community. I know it’s not always a conscious choice to use these binary statements, as they are heavily used in the culture outside of the classroom too, but it still has an impact nonetheless.

By Washington State law, public schools are not required to have a bathroom for students identifying as anything other than male or female; the law just states that “it is up to the person to find an alternative”.

Starting to include gender-neutral bathrooms in schools can be a good way for all students to feel welcome.

While Shorecrest does have one gender-neutral bathroom, most students don’t know it exists, and you’re required to have a key for it, which just limits access further, leaving many non-binary students to just use one of the male or female restrooms instead. Even though Shorecrest got remodeled in 2014, gender-neutral bathrooms were not part of the design. Our school cannot have an empowered and inclusive student body if students belonging to certain identity groups are being discriminated against.

One of my friends even told me that their teacher had been complaining about how “confusing” non-binary language was, and talking about how her child was “making it difficult” for her. Not only is this extremely insensitive to other non-binary students in the classroom, but it also is very unprofessional, and creates an unsafe environment.


When returning to in-person learning this school year, one of the first things I noticed that was different was the addition of pronouns to student and teacher introductions. And honestly, I thought it was very progressive of our school and our staff to include this. I took it to mean that teachers would no longer assume students’ pronouns, and for most of them, this was the case.

However, it made me realize that a lot of the teachers who didn’t ask for pronouns at the start of the year had been, and still are, misgendering students instead of using their correct pronouns. I know that asking for the pronouns of a student might seem rude, but believe me, it’s much better than just continuing to invalidate their identity.

And binary pronouns aren’t just found verbally. Many of the textbooks used in class contain phrases like “students may complete the diagram as he/she wishes” or even just using the pronoun “he” to describe all of the students reading the passages.

No student owes anyone an explanation for their identity, but that doesn’t mean that they should be disrespected because of it. Asking for a teacher or classmates’ pronouns in a classroom either as the teacher or a student can help build a more open environment, but they shouldn’t have to be obligated to explain or tell you anything about themselves, just like they would with any other identity.

The Health Curriculum

I could talk about the Shoreline School District’s health curriculum for hours. I’ll start off by saying that it’s limited, it’s very stuck from certain points of view, which is extremely othering to the students who don’t fit within those views, and it looks like it was made in the 90, and based on some of the information I gleaned from that course, maybe it was.

Of course, I have to say I may have a very different experience from most students because I chose to take Health during the summer, but I’m pretty sure that no matter when you take it, the curriculum is the same.

Firstly, during Unit 3: Self Identity, the curriculum talks about stereotypes for males and females, phrasing them like: “Girls can have short hair and boys can wear pink if they want to; I know you would never do it, but some people do.” It was a very outdated (and, in my opinion, alienating) unit, also because it never mentioned that the identities non-binary or transgender even existed. I tried to message my teacher to try and recommend that the very binary unit on gender was probably not an accurate representation of the entire student body, but he didn’t even read my message and merely responded, “Great job! Keep up the good work.”

It was frustrating to not be able to communicate well with my teachers online.

If I had taken Health in person, I feel like my messages would not have gone ignored, or I could have just told the teacher in person, but most unfortunately my teacher for health was all the way in Spokane, Washington, far away from his agitated student.

I understand that curriculum changes can take a very long time to get approved, and have to go through strenuous review processes, but the thought that kids will have to go through the same, alienating experience as I did next year and for many more years to come makes me disgusted. For a school that claims equity, the curriculum does not match up.

Final Thoughts

I think that in all, Shorecrest is trying better to include students of all identities, not just gender-related ones, but there is still much room for improvement. As of the school year of 2021-2022, there is no category in the school district spending budget directed towards teacher education on gender or gender-neutral bathrooms, or even therapy resources for those who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community. These are some steps that the district could take to work on being more inclusive toward everyone. And honestly, I feel hopeful that they’ll be able to eventually create a safe environment for all of their students.


Interesting note: When I searched for images I could use for this article, this popped up.

I’m not sure if it was just a bunch of things that the search filter actually needed to censor and I’m reading into it too much, but there is always bias behind the program, which comes from whoever programmed it. I just can’t see why “Floral Pronoun Design” would need to be censored.


Editor’s note: I was able to search the same thing on a non-school computer, and here’s what I found:

Agreed that there’s nothing objectionable here. Of course, we can’t jump to conclusions: the search filter automatically blocks Twitter and other social media sites, for example, no matter what the content is. But it still is an interesting pattern.