Asking for correct pronouns creates a safe classroom

Cisgender: someone who identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth
Transgender: someone who doesn’t identify with the gender they were assigned at birth
Non-binary: someone who identifies outside the male/female gender binary
The question “What pronouns do you use?” has become familiar in society; however, it needs to be asked more frequently in schools. As a way to alleviate stress and normalize the action, teachers should ask all of their students for their preferred name and pronouns.
“Teachers should do this because it’s really easy, demonstrates respect, and the more often we do this the more it’ll become normalized in society. As we continue to do it more often, the less confusing and scary it is,” said Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA) sponsor Robyn Steinmetz.
Being able to create a safe space for all students regardless of gender expression should be a priority for teachers.
“I find that it’s not awkward when a teacher asks me for my pronouns, especially if the teacher does it first. I think that it will make the action seem more normal,” said senior Caleb Keane.
Steinmetz asks her students through a slip of paper where they can write their preferred name and pronouns on the first day of school.
“Teachers need to ask their students these things immediately. This is the perfect opportunity for the teacher to learn nicknames, pronunciation, and pronouns,” Steinmetz said.
Keane and another trans student who wishes to remain anonymous welcome that teachers are curious and even say asking for pronouns doesn’t need to be formal.
“As a trans student, I’m already hyper-focused about everything around me. It’s less weird when it’s a casual conversation,” Keane said.
“It’s much easier for my gender expression when teachers are open about wanting to learn and are curious. It eliminates the need to come out all over again and instead just introduce myself as me,” said the trans student who wishes to remain anonymous.
By doing so, teachers actively demonstrate that they are creating a safe space in the classroom.
“When a teacher asks for pronouns, they broadcast that they’re an ally. They are standing up for their safety, and the teacher will handle the situation in an appropriate manner,” Steinmetz said.
Being an ally involves more than asking for pronouns, but being able to self correct. Self correction is an example of being self aware of what someone says and does. Teachers need to be aware when either themselves or students dead name or use the wrong pronouns.
“I want them to enforce using the correct pronouns but not make it uncomfortable; however, taking the action to correct themselves and their students shows that their students’ safety is their number one priority,” Keane said.
The education aspect behind the initial question serves to show future progressive change. As a community, it is important to cater to all students and ensure their safety. By asking all students for their pronouns, teachers are establishing that they are allies and ready to protect students.