Document Type

Capstone Project (Open Access)

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


Humanities & Communication




There are many struggles students face when pursuing an education. These barriers often leave students weary and disheartened, dreading the seven hours a day they are forced to spend at an institution that does not value their needs or identity. This paper will focus on how gender affects students’ learning in schools. In particular, it will discuss the sexualization of feminine-presenting students, the assumption of violence in masculine-presenting students, and the failure to provide safe and inclusive environments for gender-nonconforming students. All of this will be examined through the lens of gender’s effect on relationships within the education system, as well as the impact of shifting student mindsets. Many school systems have failed to create a space where students feel valued, safe, and understood. The first step to promoting learning is to ensure that gender norms and expectations do not affect student progress. The effects of a gendered binary system are detrimental to the growth of students, no matter the individual’s gender expression. The gender binary—and the societal norms that fall within it—serve to shame, stereotype, and constrain students. To create change and truly foster a positive learning environment, an effort must be made on an institutional and cultural level.