Teachers ask for students’ gender pronouns to create a welcoming environment


Sophia Awoyinka

Students can add their pronouns next to their name on Zoom meetings.

Gender pronouns have developed a prominent role in today’s society. By asking students for their preferred pronouns, teachers at Carlmont are cultivating a comfortable class environment while demonstrating respect for students and their mental health. 

Pronouns represent a significant part of a person’s gender identity and misgendering can have major effects on a student’s mental health. Teachers can avoid misgendering their students by simply asking for preferred gender pronouns. 

Susan Gold, an English teacher at Carlmont, explained how she got to know her students’ pronouns.    

“I ask students for their preferred pronouns on the get-to-know-you questionnaire I assign on the first day of school,” Gold said. “Asking students for preferred pronouns is a basic way to respect individuals who are gender nonconforming and also a way to raise awareness among cisgender students who haven’t thought about this issue.”

Carlmont High School does not require teachers to ask students for their preferred pronouns, but several teachers have taken steps to learn their students’ pronouns and create a comfortable class environment. 

In addition to creating a comfortable class environment, teachers have learned their students’ pronouns in order to promote better mental health. Multiple studies have shown how the mental health of gender-nonconforming youths is worse than their cisgender peers. Misgendering plays a part in this lack of psychological well-being. 

“I use she/her and them/they pronouns. I just don’t tell many people because I feel invalid compared to others,” Jamie Smith* said. “It’s frustrating when it’s your own identity… For those who are out, it’s the most validating thing to be called by the right pronouns and name to help alleviate dysphoria.”

Analiese Holland, a sophomore at Carlmont, explained the importance of pronouns and how using the right pronouns can affect students. 

“I definitely think it is important for teachers to ask for preferred pronouns because it would make kids feel seen,” Holland said. “It’s important for students to feel comfortable in the classroom, and being misgendered can take a big toll on a person’s mental health.”

Several members of Carlmont staff are putting in effort to make students feel safe, comfortable, and respected in class. 

“Carlmont did devote a staff meeting to a fantastic presentation on gender identity,” Gold said. “The counseling department has also spoken to the staff about how gender-nonconforming students have the option to change their names and pronouns in Infinite Campus.”

A sophomore at Carlmont, Abigail Kizner, shared the impact of asking for pronouns on a class environment.

“Almost all of my teachers asked for everyone’s preferred pronouns at the beginning of the year, which made me happy and showed that they care about their students,” Kizner said. 

A comfortable classroom environment can go a long way to ensure that students can make the most of each class.

Mental health is an essential part of students’ lives,” Gold said. “Creating a safe, comfortable class environment is my number one priority.” 

*This name has been changed to protect the anonymity of the source, in accordance with Carlmont Media’s anonymous sourcing policy.

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