{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "Is anyone else having difficulty when teaching pronouns now with non-binary terms? My students insist on the fact that Susan doesn’t have to be she it could be they. Answer key says she. How do we handle this?!?!", "post_id": "616176b93741ec00257f6c10", "reply_count": 260, "vote_count": 5, "bowl_id": "5c751b9f2f6b98001bc666f8", "bowl_name": "Teachers" }

Is anyone else having difficulty when teaching pronouns now with non-binary terms? My students insist on the fact that Susan doesn’t have to be she it could be they. Answer key says she. How do we handle this?!?!

likehelpful
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The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association: 7th Edition (2019) includes a chapter on bias. The APA made the decision that plural pronouns (they/them/their) can be used to reduce bias, as well as to avoid awkward use of he/she, s/he, his or hers, etc., when the gender is unknown. According to the Purdue OWL, the MLA Style Guide and the Chicago Manual of Style offer similar recommendations to avoid bias. As for standardized testing or answer keys, I guess the question is who to you want to argue against - your students or the publishing company? Teachers could amend the answer key to reflect non-biased options.

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Don't you think teachers are involved in test development? There is nothing that stops someone from moving forward and issuing feedback to those developing assessments to reflect updates in how language is used.

(p.s. this is my reply to comments far down into this thread. I decided to re-post it here at the top because I feel it is pertinent and significant to the discussion.) You are currently posting as works at New York Elementary School 5 OMG!!! NYES1 & IMS1: you both have just proven my point of absolute absurdity, if not ignorant insanity and/or delirious denial. My comment, did in no way show unwillingness to accept difference or refuse to understand constant change. I gladly acknowledge both. The issue is usage/appropriation of the pronouns "he" and "she". A person can identify as either one (maybe even both) but the fact remains that a person is A SINGLE PERSON! They are NOT "they/them", unless you include the dysfunctional multiple personality, aka: "Sybil", or maybe demon possession, aka: "Legion"! (notice I even used "they" in the singular form!) If one refers to someone as "he" or "she", one has covered all the bases: every someone identifies as "he", "she", or even "he/she", but in fact, every someone is NOT everyone! I am a "me", not a "we"! Jayzus...get a grip and pull your heads out of your polemical naivete'!

likesmart

The fact that you feel so strongly about pronouns is absolutely baffling. Guess what? No one needs your permission to be called what they want to be called. It has nothing to do with the rules of the English language. It Hass to do with respecting others choices because they are different from yours. The reason I am responding this way is because you don’t see that what you are saying is homophobic and trans phobic. So maybe get off of your soapbox, take a look within at what you’re really saying.

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I would celebrate the fact that my kids are smarter than some of the adults here and not consider it a difficulty.

likesmart

The kids are right. Update your answer key.

likeupliftingsmarthelpful

It’s such a ridiculous topic to have a question about. Knowing a pronoun does not help you to be a better reader, does not help your comprehension, it has nothing to do with higher level thinking. Why would this be included in the state test? Why is it even in your curriculum??

Susan is still a she. :)

likesmartfunny

WHO ACTUALLY TEACHES PRONOUNS NOWADAYS. Seems like an antiquated way of teaching English.

I think you could handle it by educating yourself on non-binary pronouns. On the test you could say “Susan, who identifies as a woman, …

likesmarthelpfulfunny

This!!!!

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I talk about this in class and tell them that the ACT is still old school and binary, so for grammar purposes we’re still following those rules. When they text, talk, etc., they can use non-binary as it applies. But let’s face it: we’re going to have change with the times.

likehelpful

The nature of language is precisely that it's always changing, and those students are reflecting that change, not just some personal opinion. Those binary materials are already outdated.

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Just rewrite it Susan (identifies female) …..or Bob (identifies male)…. Just eliminate the issue in class but acknowledge that on state tests/standardized test are old school so when testing accept that change takes time.

likesmarthelpful

Your test is outdated--Susan could indeed be a they. It took me a little while to overcome my grammar training to always write "he or she" in the singular, but it's much easier and more inclusive to use "they."

likesmart

Oh come on. You are totally baiting here. Hope you’re happy with the results.

likesmarthelpful

Can you say we need to learn the “old fashioned” way so that when someone identifies by different pronouns we can truly respect and understand what they’re requesting? If we don’t understand that it’s assumed Susan is a she, when Susan requests to use “they” we now understand why. If we don’t learn the difference between all the pronouns we can’t truly understand what they’re asking us to change when they ask to go by different pronouns. Hope that made sense

likehelpfulsmart

Good point

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It was hard to get used to but I finally decided it was a teaching moment to discuss how language evolves.

likesmart

My county has been doing something similar for years. They pretend that students who have not mastered enough material/classes to graduate, should graduate. There fore graduation rates are in the lower to mid 90’s and yet students who graduate without knowledge an employer/colleges expect is also on the increase. Let’s pretend the answer key is wrong across the board.

likesmarthelpfulfunny

NYES 1 You must not be as caring as IMS 1who pointed out they used a gender-neutral pronoun since they didn’t know my gender. A little more reading context will help comprehension. Maybe put your sneakers on and you could back away more quickly

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You handle it by being a decent human being who is responsible for the well being and education of children and you show them respect. There is no answer key. Get over it and use their preferred pronouns. It’s not about you.

likehelpful

Ok. I’d like to hit “Pause” here for a reality check. I know tone does not translate well in text, however. CHS8 the initial post here is not one seeking discussion or open discourse so to admonish MHS1 for responding in kind is a bit disingenuous. Additionally, the original post was about a hypothetical “Susan” and not a specific student in a classroom so you can’t really misgender or offend “Susan.” On the flip side, any teacher who understands that the purpose of language is effective communication is never going to suggest that rules and standards be thrown out like a baby with the bath water. Rather as society changes and evolves so does its language. Generally speaking, we should ask ourselves what changes are necessary, not necessary and situation dependent and then teach this to be inclusive to all students and not just the majority or just the marginalized. For example, when discussing your mother, you are most likely to use the pronoun “she” unless their is a specific reason not to. “Man” is often used in words like mankind or mailman and generally thought of as neutral. A few people will ask for person-kind or mail person (l’d like to point out that my spell check corrected person-kind to be hyphenated and mail person to be two separate words) and we would respect that but either way could be offensive depending on the person. An actress being called an actor could go either way in personal preference. Perhaps we use a few situations to teach pronouns with open discussion ahead of time. Then make it clear that we respect the choices of our students, however, our fictitious worksheet characters are for the general rules and mechanics of grammar and if approved by your department add a few examples that would need the gender neutral pronouns into the lesson so that it represents the population as a whole. Change does not happen overnight. We need to prepare our students to have discussions not arguments. Prejudice stems from ignorance. You are not going to beat or shame that out of someone. However, most people are kind at heart and with open nonjudgmental conversations are willing to listen and even change. But it will happen over time and with patience.

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I usually mention the difference between school language and home language. For example, allowing students to use slang in their verbal answers and discussion, but “formal” language when writing. So with pronouns, IF IT COMES UP, I’ll say you need to know these rules for SCHOOL and just leave it at that.

likesmarthelpful

How a student identifies is not "home language." Suggesting that their chosen pronoun is comparable to slang says a lot about you.

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As long as they understand the concept of pronouns

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"Just like in real life it is not up to you to decide what Susan is. Given the unknown we will assume that Susan has reported her preferred pronoun as she to the answer key". 😉

likefunny

Here's a solution: someone just make up a new word! Start tossing out some ideas... That way, everyone who cares about English grammar can be happy that subject/antecedent agreement issues (and what not) are resolved, and the people who wish to be referred to as something else can be referred to as something else. No offense intended, just seriously a potential for compromise.

likehelpful

You could also just repeat the name. That way, whoever Susan is choosing to be, Susan is Susan.

likesmart

I stick with biological facts: there are ONLY two genders in Humans: male and female. If their chromosomes are XY, they are male; if their chromosomes are XX, they are female. Anything else is considered a mutation and has dire consequences. that simple. To imply ANYTHING beyond these facts is child abuse. And complying with the psychotic "multiple genders" is ridiculously supporting lies. Just because so many do not believe the truth, it does NOT change the truth and just be so many believe a lie, doesn't mean it isn't a lie This is anti science.

likeuplifting

MA Middle School 1 I hope that you do not teach in my district if you are saying AR has a great point.

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I go by the way he/she is registered. It also tends to end when we we have a private conversation and I ask how his/her parents feel. I won’t do it if parents are uninformed. Our “safe schools” makes us if parents are behind the request.

likehelpful

So if they have a closed-minded parent that doesn't support their preferred pronoun, you're on board with that too? That is so sad and I encourage you to do some reading and soul-searching. You have a chance to reach that kid on a personal level and instead you CHOOSE to misgender them. Be better.

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That’s an easy one! Unless a person has asked for a different pronoun you can assume that they use the typical pronouns for the gender. Since Susan has not mentioned a preference, it is correct to use female pronouns.

likesmart

As a non-binary teacher here, THIS!

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