Tuesday, February 11, 2020

20 Conversations for 2020 Challenge -- Conversation #5 Gender Neutral Pronouns

Conversation #5 Gender Neutral Pronouns

I have to admit to a huge blind spot on this issue that I have gotten better about but still find myself struggling with. It isn't the concept I have a problem with, it's the practice of it. I totally get why we should use more gender neutral pronouns, but I have habits that have been formed by 48 years of life that don't easily change overnight. Not using that as an excuse, just stating a simple fact about my life. I've moved a long way toward improvement, because I used to address the entire class as "guys". Ugh! I know, I know, I know... But when I was studying Spanish, it really made me think about that blind spot; because in Spanish, if there is one male person present in a room full of many non-male people, the gender of the pronoun used automatically switches to male... That really got me thinking. So I worked hard to say "guys and gals"; still not great, but much better. Lately I have been
working on being sensitive to gender neutral pronouns in my professional and personal life. I'm getting better at asking people upfront what gender pronouns they would like to have used about them. I was listening to Just Between Us (one of my favorite podcasts) and Gaby Dunn's partner was a guest on the show. Mal Blum is a non-binary musician who uses they, them, their as their personal pronouns. It was really interesting to hear how the hosts were making sure to use the correct pronouns with Mal throughout the show. The simple guide that Tricia shared in this challenge conversation is a excellent and simple tool for reminding yourself to use more gender neutral language with your students, colleagues, and parents. Currently I'm the Director of EdTech at my school, but next year my role will change to be the Director of Professional Learning. In that role, I plan to introduce the idea of gender neutral language to the faculty and I already know there will be some people who really push back on it, but the majority of our faculty will completely understand it and be on board; some members are already aware and sensitive to gender neutral language, so a core group of allies exists to build from at school.

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