You may have noticed something new in the signatures you see at the end of an email from someone at school. No, I’m not talking about the beautiful new Wellan logo (though that is a work of art). I’m talking about pronouns.
These identifying pronouns in our school email signatures acknowledge the reality that a person’s gender identity is not something we can assume based on that person’s name or physical appearance. The pronouns serve as a cue to email recipients on how to refer to the sender.
Being welcoming and inclusive of all gender identities is a subject that is important to me, as I expressed in my previous blog post. Encouraging children to be their best selves is literally my job. My colleagues and I work extremely hard to help our students realize their potential as independent, creative, and curious learners. This empowerment comes in many forms; using a child’s correct pronouns is one of them. Some are he, some are she, some are they. In our society, today the use of “they” as a singular pronoun has been revived in the context of showing respect for those whose personal gender identity does not align with the gender assigned at birth, or any particular binary. When children feel like they are safe with the people who take care of them, they open up and tell us who they are. It is a gift to us as parents and educators when they can do this at age five.
Pronouns have been in the media a lot lately, from celebrities coming out as non-binary to Mattel creating a line of gender-neutral dolls. And as with anything that may be unfamiliar, there are many people with a lot of opinions. All we as parents and teachers can do is give our children the knowledge and believe they will absorb it like they would anything else in the classroom.
Changing the way we speak about gender is not easy. However, it is a challenge we must accept. Children, like the little sponges they are, take these changes in stride. Here at Wellan, these changes are happening—and I for one am grateful to be a parent who can trust that the school will support my child no matter how they identify.
My personal library is fully stocked with the latest books about these subjects. Here are a few new ones:
Introducing Teddy: A Gentle Story About Gender and Friendship by Jessica Walton
It Feels Good to Be Yourself: A Book About Gender Identity by Theresa Thorn
They, She, He Easy as ABC by Maya and Matthew
From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea by Kai Cheng Tom