Photo by Julia Leitner '23
The first day of school is taxing, no matter who you are. The personal demand to have an excellent first impression on each person you meet, the exceptionally high expectations that you create in your mind for each aspect of the day and the sudden need to fit in while simultaneously wanting to stand out is difficult. Even after experiencing nine first-days of school, I surely wasn’t any less nervous for my 10th. But in some ways, I am lucky.
I am a cis female and I have gone by, and continue to go by she/her pronouns.. Due to this, I have never before experienced discomfort when having my pronouns assumed by teachers and peers. This has made my overall experience on the first day of school that much easier. This is why I believe all students at Staples should be asked for their preferred pronouns.
This is due to the fact that people all around the world do not enjoy the same luxuries as I do.
Pronouns can be a difficult and tricky situation. It does not make a difference whether someone is non-binary, transgender or any other form of self-identification. The awkward confrontation involved in correcting someone, or discomfort over the ways you are being addressed when staying silent, is not something that anybody should have to worry about.
School is a setting that can make any person feel awkward and uncomfortable, and it is up to the educators to try to eliminate these factors and create a welcoming learning environment. Many schools around the world have taken action. At least 20 colleges and universities now have students enter their pronouns into the roster, and over 50 have allowed students to change their gender listed on the campus record regardless if they have evidence of medical intervention.
Along with this, hundreds of colleges and universities have been partaking in the request for pronouns for several years now. EvenWeston High School has joined the movement.
To fully achieve these safe school conditions, teachers at Staples should begin asking for students’ pronouns, as early as they are learning their names, on the first day of school.
This simple task could be done in a variety of ways.
In a COVID world, it could be as easy as asking students to put their pronouns next to their name on Zoom. Teachers could also ask for pronouns when going through attendance, or while doing icebreakers. It could also be done in a more subtle way by providing students the opportunity to express their preferences on a questionnaire.
No matter how teachers decide to present the question, it is essential for making sure that all students feel content and secure within the classroom.
In the two years I have attended Staples, I have not once been asked, or heard someone else be asked by a staff member, what their preferred pronouns were. I believe this situation, however minor it may appear to those unaffected by it, calls for an immediate need for change.
Staples being the number one high school in Connecticut, calls for constant attempts at improving. Introducing this essential feature in a classroom environment will ultimately provide an opportunity for teens to express their needs, and widen other teens’ understandings of topics like these. Leaving such things up for assumption is simply no longer acceptable.