Normalize pronoun use among students, staff as a means to encourage inclusion, acceptance

Danny Gallo, Journalist

      I believe we must start this article with a little English lesson. If you recall from earlier school years- back to middle and even as early as elementary, you might remember learning about pronouns. Pronouns are words that often substitute someone’s name in a sentence. 

     Here’s an example. Instead of saying “Austin went to the arcade,” you can certainly say, “He went to the arcade”. 

      I feel the need to say this because of recent inconsiderate conversations I have overheard when people in this school have talked about pronouns.

     Pronouns are very important for those who struggle with their gender identity or who do not fit with the gender they were assigned at birth, and who, with the right of human liberty, wish to change it. Comments made by students in this school such as “I don’t have pronouns,” or “My pronouns are normal,” simply sound uneducated and shallow.

     Because guess what Jeremy?  Pronouns are one of the most normal things in the English language. We use them every day. Talking about your dog? You use pronouns to say HE is a good boy! Talking about your favorite football players? You use pronouns to talk about how good of a kicker HE is! You use them every day.

     Normalizing pronouns leads to the acceptance and de-stigmatization of those who do not align with pronouns assigned to their gender at birth as well as create a more comfortable atmosphere for the greater public. Ways that students can help create this is by simply asking someone what pronouns they are most comfortable with.

      How do you ask someone about their pronouns? It’s as simple as the following: “What are your pronouns? And how would you like me to address you?” “Would you mind telling me your pronouns? Just so that I know I am using the correct ones”. Interactions as such could go a long way to help your classmate feel more at home while being at school.

     I know many of those who go to North Harford do not feel the need to work on this issue because it is a fairly new concept, even though the history of transgender individuals goes centuries back.

     All I ask of you is this:   be patient and understanding of others’ identities. 

     Imagine it is your sister, brother, best friend, who does not identify with the pronouns they have used and were assigned with at birth. What would you do? The kindest answer here is to have conversations and try to understand where they are coming from. 

     Another way you can be of help is by doing small things that would mean the world; listing your pronouns on social media usernames, introducing yourself with the pronouns you align with. You can do this by stating, “Hello, my name is ____ and my pronouns are (he/him, or she/her, or they/them, etc).” Little steps like this go a long way. 

     Teachers can also do their part to help make our school environment a safer place. Other teachers can take note of what Creative Writing teacher Michael James has done.  At the beginning of the school year, James displays a form for students to fill out on Itslearning which has simple questions about how they would like to be referred to, whether that is a nickname or what pronouns they go by.

    James explains “Sadly, students who are not cisgender (comfortable with assigned gender at birth) face obstacles and abuse other students do not. Why would I, their teacher, want to add to that by denying them this?” he explains. 

     In addition, the educator’s views on the matter come down to being a decent human being. James proclaims: “Using someone’s preferred pronouns says to someone that I value you as a human being worthy of respect.” 

     Yes.  Yes, it does.