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Childrearing

Teacher Asks Students To Use Gender-Neutral Pronouns, And It’s The Parents Who Freak Out

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One of the most important lessons kids should learn is to be respectful of other people, and part of that is always referring to people by the correct names, titles, and pronouns. Recently, however, a Florida teacher asked their students to refer to them using gender-neutral pronouns. The kids seem to have caught onto their teacher’s pronouns pretty quickly, but some of the parents got upset.

According to the Tallahassee Democrat, parents of fifth graders at the Canopy Oaks elementary school in Tallahassee, Florida, received a letter titled “About Mx. Bressack.” In it, math and science teacher Chloe Bressack said their pronouns were “they, them, their,” and asked not to be referred to as “she” or “he.”

“…My pronouns are ‘they, them, their’ instead of ‘he, his, her, hers,'” Bressack wrote. “I know it takes some practice for it to feel natural, but students catch on pretty quickly.”

Bressack also asked to be addressed as Mx., not Mr. or Ms.

Some parents were perfectly fine with the announcement, but others were worried or upset. One parent posted photo of the letter to a Facebook group and asked, “What would your reaction be as a parent of 9 & 10 year olds?”

Reactions were strongly divided.

Fortunately, the principal and administrators say they are firmly supporting Mx. Bressack in their request to be referred to with gender-neutral pronouns.

“We support her preference in how she’s addressed, we certainly do,” the school’s principal, Paul Lambert, said. (Kids seem to get used to using gender neutral pronouns much more quickly than adults, as principal Lambert’s seemingly accidental misgendering of Bressack illustrates.)

According to Lambert, some parents calling about the letter were confused. They somehow thought Bressack would be referring to students by gender-neutral pronouns.

“There has been some (contact from concerned parents), the thing that has brought good understanding is, it’s not a preference that’s being applied to anyone other than the teacher,” he said.

The kids are going to exist in the world. They’ll have classmates, professors, coworkers, bosses, and friends with gender-neutral pronouns. Some of them might have gender-neutral pronouns themselves someday. Genderfluid people exist, and it’s important that kids learn to address people by their correct names and pronouns.

How would you respond to a teacher using gender-neutral pronouns? Let us know in the comments.

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(Image: iStockPhoto / monkeybusinessimages)

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