Features

Gender Pronouns at Harvard and Having Them Stay in Classrooms

By: Bella Minor

Gender Pronouns are used for individuals who do not identify themselves with the standard gender assigned pronouns. There are a lot of gender pronouns and not everyone understands the usage of them or the importance of calling the person the right gender or name. College classrooms have been especially struggling to obtain the usage of gender pronouns, since no one truly knows how to use them properly or what a person wants to be labeled as. Labels in society are very difficult to change and students want to feel comfortable in their classrooms and being called either “they/them” or “ze/hir” seems to help many of them feel respected. Understanding where each student comes from is important because we all don’t know what a student is struggling with.

Classrooms are supposed to be a safe space for each student to feel welcomed and not intimidated about who they are. Specifically, college is the time to express who you really are and how you want the world to see you. Over the past few years, many  questions have been posed regarding gender pronouns and how it impacts students for the rest of

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their lives. Besides looking at only the student as an individual, one also has to examine the institutions where they are spending their time. Harvard is trying to make their school more inclusive, but teachers are still not complying with the university’s attempt to use correct gender pronouns. Is this resistance coming from not understanding the use of the pronouns, not understanding how a student feels, or simply not understanding that students are affected by their ignorance? 

Although there has been underlying resistance, Harvard has succeeded in numerous steps to make gender neutral students feel welcomed on their campus. Even though these actions may seem somewhat small, they work to make a student feel as if they belong. Harvard has decided to create gender neutral dorms for first year students, and are now having it implemented for sophomores, juniors and seniors. Like many schools around the country, Harvard is now forming groups/clubs for gender neutral students. The student body has decided to make a gender inclusive map which shows students directly on campus where the gender neutral bathrooms are located. In every department, Harvard has decided to make inclusive and trans-inclusive work spaces for students, so they do not feel intimidated, but welcomed in the departments and spread their opinions and thoughts.           

Being called by your proper gender pronoun may seem miniscule, and many may think that it isn’t important. However, it is imperative for these students, and they deserve to feel as though they belong. As a society, we don’t know what these people have been through behind closed doors with family or friends. College is a time to start fresh and a student should be welcomed regardless of their gender pronouns. It is time for society to start accepting these progressive measures and accept groups and individuals because as a student, it is difficult to feel at home at a university that doesn’t work to accept every part of you.

Sources:

www.nyt.com/2020/02/19/us/gender-pronouns-college.html

 

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