Hi again, readers!
My colleague and good friend, Megan Grandmont, wrote a fantastic post this week about a professional development day we attended at Newburyport High School. This PD, hosted by Missy and Nic at the Masschusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Safe Schools Program, centered around making our schools and classrooms safe and welcoming environments for LGBTQ+ students. For a more detailed description of the PD, please read Megan’s post here.
This PD provided many important ways to make our classrooms more welcoming for our LGBTQ+ students; however, something I want to share with you is the importance of the introduction.
When Missy and Nic first introduced themselves, they also introduced the pronouns they want people to use for them. For example, “Hello, I’m ____, and I use pronouns: she, her, her” or “I’m ____, and I use pronouns, he,him,his.” This introduction is a small but important way to say: “hey, I’m an ally; I’m here for you; I respect you.” And you’ve said all that just by sharing your preferred pronouns–isn’t that amazing! The reason for sharing your own preferred pronouns is to encourage your students to share their preferred pronouns. I say encourage because some students may not be ready to share their preferred pronouns, and that’s okay! When doing introductions, you can invite students to share their pronouns, but you should be very clear that it is not required.
Something we must remember, however, is that once we invite our students to share their preferred pronouns, we MUST do our best to use those pronouns. Nic was passionate about the importance of using preferred pronouns when speaking to people, and apologizing and taking responsibility if we make a mistake (after all, we are all human).
Another thing, and ELA teachers, I’m talking to you: “they” is an acceptable singular pronoun today. Remember, the English language is always changing, and this is just one of the ways language adapts to meet our cultural needs (and how cool is it that language can adapt like this?!). If you are really worried about your students making agreement errors in their papers by using “they” as a singular pronoun, perhaps you can ask students to include a footnote telling you if “they” is singular or plural in their paper (or asterisk every use of “they” that is singular). Whatever you decide to do in your class, please make sure you are respecting someone’s preferred pronouns for they are an important reflection of that person’s true identity.
So readers, without further ado, I’d like to introduce myself… I’m Anne, and I use pronouns she, her, her.