We have heard about the use of pronouns for the last several years. Some people include their pronouns in their email footers. Today we want to explore pronouns and examine whether they have a place in K-12 education.
Pronouns are often referred to as “gender” pronouns and appear to be attempt to be gender neutral or add specific examples of how a person wants to be referred to and addressed. This of course requires that the person choosing and using the pronouns understand the meaning of and agree on the interpretation of the designations. It appears that in the past 5-10 years there has been an uptick on use by certain segments of the population. It’s fair to say that those supporting LGBTQ views appear to have a heightened sensitivity to references such that gender neutral is the goal.
Here’s a definition: A pronoun is a word used to replace a noun in a sentence. We use them to refer to something or someone. Typically, pronouns are either singular or plural. Some languages, like English and Spanish, have gendered pronouns. In English, we use “he” to refer to male nouns, “she” for female nouns, and “it/they” for nouns with no or indeterminate gender.
The refusal to use self designated pronouns when addressing a person has led to disciplinary actions including lawsuits and dismissals. Indeed coaches, teachers, administrators and others have been dismissed for failing to use or refusing to use specific pronouns for individuals. Some are now fighting back and winning. Here are a few examples:
Do children understand pronouns and if so is there an age when they should?
How important is it that children understand and choose to decide on their “pronoun/s”?
- Here’s the script: teachers in a position of authority ask elementary school-aged children coming together in a group to introduce themselves. “Please give us your name and preferred pronouns”.
- Children, even at the age of 8 or 9 are expected to know what this means and be able to answer the question. But has anyone stopped to think about what they’re being asked to do?
- Gender identity is a developmental issue in children. Some children have a strong sense that they “are” the opposite sex from a very early age. But it’s well researched that most of these children desist from believing that they’re the opposite sex by the time they reach puberty.
- Other children don’t have such a belief but are being told that if they don’t “feel” like a typical girl or boy, then they may be transgender and can use alternative pronouns like “they” rather than “he” or “she” which are used as fairly neutral descriptors of the body they were born with.
- Biology, it seems, has become taboo. Old school.
So how many different words (real or created) are floating around to express “genderism”? A quick search shows 50-70-100+ Here’s a snapshot of how one site explains it:
What are they/them, xe/xem, ze/zim, sie/hir, and other gender-neutral pronouns?
You may have heard of the pronouns they, ze, xe, or hir and thought to yourself, what in the world is ze? Ze, hir, xe, and the singular they are gender-neutral pronouns, used just like you would use any other in a sentence. They initially arose out of the necessity for more inclusive pronouns as the women’s rights movement grew in the 19th century. Later, they began being used as a way to be more inclusive of a wide spectrum of genders. Trans and non-binary people like myself sought these pronouns out or created new ones because we felt he or she weren’t suitable for our needs or identity.
Does forcing the creation and use of pronouns help or damage children? Here are links to several articles where they hypothesize damage can occur:
- There are a lot more
It’s clear that a portion of society and special interest groups want kids to be referred to in a gender neutral way. They appear to be the minority but until parents push back the trend will continue. Somehow this effort feels like it’s attempting to depersonalize and build barriers. It feels like some adults using children as pawns to achieve philosophical objectives.