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Upbeat News June 2021

More young people—one in six—are identifying as LGBTQ (Washington Post). Educators have always played a role in supporting their students’ well-being, and as students claim their LGBTQ identities as early as elementary school, it’s vital to make our schools welcoming and inclusive. For our Pride Month issue of Upbeat News, we’re featuring resources to create safe spaces for LGBTQ students. We’re also spotlighting our picture book Jamie and Bubbie: A Book About People’s Pronouns with an excerpt on how to talk with children about personal pronouns.

For additional resources on fostering safe spaces for students, click here.

Talking with Children About Pronouns

Adapted from Jamie and Bubbie by Afsaneh Moradian
It’s important to help children express themselves and their ideas about gender. Guiding them in sharing their pronouns is not the same as assigning them a pronoun. The more open-minded you are, the more confident children will feel in sharing their pronouns.
Creating a gender-inclusive classroom culture is key to creating an open and safe environment for children to share their pronouns. Here are a few ways to do that:
  • Ask children to share their name and pronouns with the group. Start this off yourself. Say, “My name is ______ and I go by ______ pronouns.” Once all children have shared, create a visual display of names and pronouns. This helps support children who are gender expansive.
  • Use gender-neutral language for animals, insects, and inanimate objects, such as toys.
  • When reading books, use a variety of pronouns to discuss the illustrations. Using the singular they for characters and explaining why helps children learn that they don’t have to assign a female or male pronoun to everyone—it’s better to use they than to assume someone’s gender.
  • Read books to the class where students can see pronouns connected to characters or real people who are transgender, nonbinary, agender, and so on. Doing this helps normalize the idea that gender identity is fluid and that people don’t always go by the pronouns we might assume.
  • Invite someone who goes by they/them to talk to the class about why they chose these pronouns, and then ask children to share their pronouns.
You can also check out these resources to learn more about personal pronouns and how to use them respectfully: Purposefully misusing pronouns can be a form of bullying. If this happens, it is important to speak to the children involved in addition to having a group discussion about using people’s correct pronouns so everyone feels accepted and respected.
Ideas about gender identity are always changing and so is the related language. To best support the children and adults in our lives, it’s always good to ask questions rather than assume a gendered pronoun.

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