Teachers Implement Pronoun Awareness
Last spring, some Boulder Valley School District teachers participated in a social justice presentation for faculty geared towards making changes in the classroom to help LGBTQ kids be better represented.
Queer Endeavor’s website says their free two day teacher training helps “develop habits of heart and mind necessary for creating a safe, affirming place for all students and families.”
Part of the training suggested that teachers ask students their preferred pronouns in case they don’t line up with their biological gender.
Examples of common personal pronouns
The topic of pronoun usage is not one that is widely discussed, even among students.
“I asked [classes with] kids who I kind of felt like I should ask,” said teacher Becky Roetto, “the ones I did ask were like, ‘What are you talking about?’”
“I think kids were a little confused. Like some people didn’t know what they were asking. And I think people weren’t upset they were just surprised,” said Willow Perlick sophomore.
However, many students feel that this topic is worth talking about and could be impactful.
“I feel like [asking pronouns] was necessary because if kids have changed their mind about their identity in the past year, that could lead to a really uncomfortable situation [in which] they have to go up and talk to their teacher,” said senior Adee Weller. “It puts those kids in a really safe, accepting environment for them to make that decision.”
While some students feel that the program is a huge step towards a more accepting environment, others pointed out some flaws and areas of improvement in the new program.
“Normally [teachers] ask verbally which seems like a really bad idea,” said Patrick Simpson, junior. “The whole point is not to single kids out. First day of school they ask for your pronouns and you say something different from the rest of the class, you're automatically singled out. But even if you write something down, your teachers still call you by a different pronoun… still singling you out. I'd love to find an answer to that problem.”
The changes are being made not just in the classroom. For example, there were several adjustments made in Knight Crew.
“This year was the first year at Freshman Orientation that we didn’t do a Boys vs. Girl balloon game. We just had two teams,” said Roetto. “That group [Knight Crew] is so geared towards making people feel included and welcomed.”
For some people, the changes in the classroom are a big step towards acceptance and respect for other communities.
Kelly Anderson, a former Fairview student said “It’s important to see positive representation, otherwise it limits people’s ability to explore sexuality. If I had more representation around me I would’ve been able to come out sooner.”