Thursday, February 28th, 2013
A first-grade Colorado child who was born a boy but identifies as a girl is the subject of a discrimination complaint filed by the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund. Last December, Eagleside Elementary School decided that first-grader Coy Mathis was no longer allowed to use the girl’s bathroom, prompting the complaint. More from CNN:
Mother Kathryn Mathis said she and her husband were shocked.
“We were very confused because everything was going so well, and they had been so accepting, and all of a sudden it changed and it was very confusing and very upsetting because we knew that, by doing that, she was going to go back to being unhappy,” she told CNN. “It was going to set her up for a lot of bad things.”
Coy was born with male sex organs but has identified as female since she could express herself, her mother said. The child had attended classes during her kindergarten year with no problems and no complaints from anyone at the school, Mathis told reporters at the Colorado Capitol in Denver, where she was flanked by her husband, Jeremy, and four other children.
Friday, February 22nd, 2013
The gender discrepancy in diagnoses of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) has long been studied, with boys being diagnosed far more often than girls. Researchers, in a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may be honing in on scientific explanation for why girls seem to have a “female protective effect” against ASD. More from The Boston Globe:
Researchers used two large databases of thousands of fraternal twins that included information about autistic behaviors, including problems with social interactions, communication, and repetitive behaviors. Since the siblings share similar genetic risk factors and environmental exposures, studying how the autistic traits the children in each family had was one way of trying to isolate the role gender could play in the disorder.
What the researchers found was a clear signal that girls were protected; in other words, females needed to have a greater burden of familial risk factors in order to manifest classical autistic behaviors. The researchers figured that out by comparing the siblings of two groups: girls whose behaviors put them in the top 10th percentile of autistic behaviors and boys who were similarly ranked. If gender had a protective effect, the researchers would expect girls to be more likely to have a sibling with autistic traits than boys in the same group. That’s because girls would need more familial risk factors to overcome the protective effect, and those same risk factors would also be experienced by their siblings.
John Gabrieli, a neuroscientist at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at the Massachusettts Institute of Technology, said that the study was striking because it shows evidence that something biological—in the genes or environment—is “muting” autistic traits in girls.
“It’s worth studying, practically, because it is so impressive. Because if you understood some of these mechanisms, maybe it would be a suggestion of a treatment for boys or prevention for boys, or a naturally-occurring preventive treatment,” Gabrieli said.
Image: Happy girl, via Shutterstock
Monday, February 11th, 2013
Boys who act out or otherwise misbehave in their school classrooms may actually be doing themselves an academic disservice, a new study published in The Journal of Human Resources suggests. The study found that in many classrooms, boys earned lower grades than their standardized test scores would have predicted, because their teachers hold their behavior against them. More from NBC News:
According to the study, disruptive behavior may indeed be working against the wiggle worms of the world.
[Study co-author Jessica] Van Parys and co-researchers analyzed data from the National Center for Education Statistics involving about 6,000 mostly white, black and Hispanic students from around the country who were followed from kindergarten through fifth grade, starting in the 1998-1999 school year.
Students were given tests in reading, math and science, while teachers also rated students’ abilities in all three areas, as well as rated them on classroom behaviors. The study found that when assessing kids’ academic abilities, the teachers factored in their classroom behaviors.
This ultimately helped the girls and hurt boys. The girls scored about 15 percent higher in behavior (also called ”non-cognitive skills”), which meant they earned better grades than boys, even though they didn’t score as high on the tests.
“Our point is that teachers take into account other factors, either consciously or unconsciously, when they rate the child’s ability on all kinds of subject areas,” Van Parys said. “It’s hard for teachers to be completely objective when they’re giving an assessment.”
Image: Boy in school, via Shutterstock
Categories: Education, Must Read, New Research | Tags: boys, child behavior, Education, gender, grades, math, reading, school, science
Thursday, January 3rd, 2013
A growing number of expectant couples are hosting what is being dubbed an “ultrasound party,” in which an ultrasound technician brings equipment to a home, and the family and friends of the couple get a glimpse of the bundle of joy, still in utero. Today.com reports:
With the exception of two women in lab coats and a buzzing console next to the chaise lounge, [Kimberly and Jonathon] Enderles’ party was like any other family gathering. Drinks, snacks, friendly banter. Once the machine was ready, though, Kimberly asked husband Jonathon to corral the guests around the two monitors and hit the lights.
Suddenly there was a baby on the screen.
The techs pointed out various body parts while family members speculated on the origins of nose and cheek genes. There was cooing, commentary, and from the 3-year-old big brother-to-be, brutal honesty.
“Looks like a monster,” he said. “I like monsters!”
Licensed ultrasound techs Teena Gold and Christy Foster, both members of the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography, perform 3D/4D ultrasound weeknights and Saturdays around northwest Arkansas. The pair founded Baby Face and More as soon as they could afford a high-quality mobile ultrasound machine of their own. Now they charge $100-$350 to help parents indulge their craving for another glimpse of baby. Guests optional.
“Gender reveal is probably the bulk of our work,” Gold said, referring to parties where parents and guests find out the gender of the unborn baby together in real time.
The Enderles weren’t going for a dramatic moment; they already knew they were expecting a boy. This party was about getting a longer, less-hurried look.
“It’s more of an experience and less of an in-and-out procedure,” said Gold, pointing out that medical ultrasound often does not allow parents to savor the wonder of the life growing inside them.
“This way gets you out of that clinic setting,” added Foster.
Whatever the parents’ motivation, the ultrasound party trend appears to be spreading. From California to Florida, services like Peek a View and Miracles Imaging help expectant parents turn a procedure into a party.
But not everyone thinks taking ultrasound home is a good idea.
“It’s exciting to share the experience of finding out the gender of your baby with your loved ones,” said Dr. Amber Sills, an OB/GYN from Bentonville, Ark.
But there can be frightening risks, as well.
“What if the ultrasonographer started the ultrasound and there was no heartbeat?” she asked. “Or what if the fetus had not developed a skull/head/brain? This happens more than most people realize. What do you do then?”
Sills points out that ultrasounds have traditionally been used to diagnose chromosomal disorders, malformations, and to aid in estimating fetal weight or the amount of amniotic fluid — not for entertainment value.
“Revealing gender has never been a reason to do an ultrasound,” she said.
Image: Ultrasound machine, via Shutterstock
Wednesday, December 19th, 2012
After more than 40,000 people signed a 13-year-old’s petition urging the toy company Hasbro to make a gender-neutral version of its iconic “Easy Bake Oven,” the company has agreed to give the product a makeover next year. As the Associated Press reports:
McKenna Pope was prompted to start the petition after shopping for an Easy-Bake as a Christmas present for her 4-year-old brother, Gavyn Boscio, and finding them only in purple and pink.
Hasbro invited McKenna and her family to its Pawtucket, R.I., headquarters to meet with its Easy-Bake team, and on Monday, they drove to Rhode Island from New Jersey. During the meeting, Hasbro executives showed off a prototype of their newest Easy-Bake: one that’s black, silver and blue.
Hasbro has been working on the new color scheme and design for about 18 months, and decided to invite McKenna to see it and offer her thoughts, said John Frascotti, Hasbro’s chief marketing officer.
McKenna said the company is doing everything she asked, including putting boys in the ads.
‘‘I think that they really met most or even all of what I wanted them to do, and they really amazed me,’’ she said, adding that Gavyn thought the new design was ‘‘awesome.’’
Frascotti pointed out that the classic toy has had about a dozen different color schemes, from yellow to green to teal to silver, since first being introduced in 1963. The most recent iteration, introduced in 2011, is mostly purple with pink accents.
He said it’s sold well since then, and that prompted the company to look for a way to update it and to broaden the consumer base by doing it in different colors.
‘‘It’s actually a product that’s played with by both boys and girls,’’ he said. ‘‘We will continue to offer the existing product too because it’s so popular.’’