“You’re going where to do training on transgender children–Volusia? Well...I wish you luck,” quipped a pediatrician after wrapping up a training for medical providers last week. Florida’s geography has its own unique logic, where the farther North you travel, the more Southern you find yourself. “I hope you all make it back alright,” she said to us half jokingly, and to my vexation, half frankly.
Our team from YES Institute traversed the flat-pan Turnpike landscape the afternoon prior to our arrival, our journey interrupted by periodic tropical storm bands and lightning. I pondered if the squalls were a portent of the clashes about to come. Arriving in Volusia as the sun started to set, we drove past the Daytona International Speedway, along with ammunition shops wedged between churches, fast food restaurants and abandoned storefronts. I said to myself, “Most certainly Toto, we’re not in Miami anymore.”
Teachers and counselors in Volusia County.
During the introductions, I was inspired about what was possible with such a committed group of teachers and education professionals. Several said they had been in the school system for over 25 years or more. Many started to open up about gay and transgender students - not only in their schools, but in their own families. This was a conversation whose time had clearly come for their community.
Role playing exercises during Communication Solutions™ Course.
Principal Mary Cool sharing about participating in YES courses in Miami.
On the second day, the Gender Continuum course created some “ah-hah” moments for the faculty and counselors. Many expressed revelations about gender–not only about their students–but for themselves. All of us bump up against expectations of femininity and masculinity in our society, and the impact on our psyches is most often unexamined because, “that’s just the way it is.”
“This course was incredibly interesting. I learned so much that has impacted my view on the world and will have an impact on my role as an educator.” –Volusia teacher
“I have gained so much knowledge that I don’t even know where to begin. My opinions before this workshop were so misinformed that I really didn’t understand gender issues.” –Volusia teacher
|Ashley courageously shared her journey with gender.|
An education reporter from the local Daytona Beach News-Journal attended the later half of the second day. A reprint from the story is currently available here.
Two days prior, I wasn't sure how our visit to Volusia schools would all turn out. After Jennifer's comment and all the feedback we received at the end of the second day, my own expectations were well exceeded. It is an honor to be a part of bringing this education beyond Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
“I cannot begin to explain all that I have learned! I can say that this information has changed my life. I feel that I have gained knowledge that will make me a better parent. I am going to go home, hug my son, and assure him that I love him unconditionally!” –Volusia teacher.
A new day dawns on Volusia County. Main entrance to Daytona Beach, Florida.