The Greenwich Audubon Society recently opened registration to its popular 8-week summer camp program for children ages 5 to 11 years old, and already the application is causing a stir.
That's because this year's application asked for additional information, including the child's preferred pronouns, in order to "be respectful of their gender."
The Audubon specifically states that all gender identities are welcome to this year's summer camp, including transgender, gender non-binary, gender non-conforming, intersex and agender.
This is a camp for children aged 5-11, many of whom still believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.
This is the last place that parents expected to find references to transgender children, especially those age 11 and under, for instance.
The Senior Coordinator of Community Programs, Christian Alexander, who uses he/him/his pronouns, indicated that the change was part of a national effort to create more inclusive and safe spaces for individuals of all ages and identities in the community.
Indeed, the National Audubon has issued a strong statement on EDIB (equity, diversity, inclusivity, and belonging), and promotes a culture that focuses on gender equity and inclusion.
For example, the Audubon implemented a voluntary initiative encouraging employees of any gender or sexuality to proactively share their pronouns in email signatures and in-person interactions to create an affirming workspace. The Audubon also offers a host of policies and materials to support transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming staff members before, during, and after their transition while working for the Audubon.
Additionally, the Audubon has affinity groups for employees, such as the Black Affinity Group, the People of Color (POC) Affinity Group, LGBTQIA++ (Queer) Affinity Group, and Women's Employee Resource Group (WERG).
But none of this explains why adults at the Audubon would need to ask prepubescent children about their sexuality for a summer nature camp. Especially when children this age do not have the capacity to understand concepts like transgenderism let alone even know what "gender-nonconforming" actually means.