A grade 5 teacher in Florida has requested that her students use gender neutral pronouns in the classroom.
Sorry, I should have said their students. As she (sorry, I meant they) writes: “my pronouns are ‘they, them, their’ instead of ‘he, his, she, hers.’ I know it takes some practice for it to feel natural but students catch on pretty quickly.'”
I hope they catch on more quickly than I do. (Just to clarify, I am referring here to the plural they, i.e. the students, rather than any singular they.)
Confusing? Definitely. But at least the teacher eschewed the more arcane gender neutral pronouns like xe, xi, and xir. The list of gender neutral pronouns is long … and growing. Good luck to grade 5 students facing this brave new world.
Oh yes, and the teacher, Chloe Bressack, also requests that they (by which I mean she) be referred to as Mx. Bressack (pronounced “Mix”).
Contrary to what you might think, I’m not necessarily disparaging the advent and use of gender neutral pronouns. The reality is that not everybody fits into the gender binary. (I’m thinking here specifically of people that are intersex though of course many people who are biologically and genetically male or female also chafe at their sex and/or gender identity.)
And Mx. Bressack certainly didn’t invent the awkward use of the singular they. Indeed, I recall entering university twenty-three years ago and coming to terms with the fact that the generic “he” and “man” was no longer acceptable in academic writing. I weathered that storm and soon came to adopt a range of of responses from he/she to the singular they to “humankind”.
So who knows how they (by which I mean both the entire grade 5 class and each individual of unspecified gendered within the class) will communicate tomorrow?
Brave new world, indeed.