The National Education Association’s October 2022 issue of NEA Today carries an article titled “Pronouns and Why they Matter for LGBTQ+ Students.” As a science teacher, I always found English teachers could do things I never had time for. The article encourages teachers to “try role modeling your pronouns before inviting everyone to introduce theirs.” It gives a pattern to follow: “Hi, my name is Meg, and I use she/her/hers pronouns. Could everyone please go around and share their name and pronouns.”
Reading this article reminded me of education courses I took at Indiana University many years ago. The professors who taught them had never taught in a public high school. They never dealt with gangs, had a gun or a knife pulled on them, or been threatened by a girl who spent her weekends as a neighborhood prostitute. Those of us teachers who had experienced all those things in the classroom just rolled our eyes and read their books so we could pass the course.
The last LGBTQ+ student I had in class changed her name four times in the school year. She would tell me when entering my classroom what name to use when I called on her. When she found out I was a Christian, she came in to talk on numerous occasions. She knew that she was safe in my classroom, that I cared about her, and that I understood some of her struggles. Late in the year, she told me, “You know I don’t care what you call me, you have shown me that you care about me, and that is all I need.”
I spent 41 years in the trenches, and while I never pushed my religion on my students, they knew where I came from. I have often said that if you have to tell someone that you are a Christian, there is a problem. Atheism, naturalism, and secular humanism have taken over the American educational system and destroyed public schools.
I don’t have all the answers, but I know that role modeling your pronouns is not as important as letting the students know you care about them. I understand why parents and educators are fleeing public schools and turning to charter and private schools. As they do, that leaves the public schools in many places as preparatory prison systems collapsing under their own weight.
— John N. Clayton © 2022
Reference: “Pronouns and Why they Matter for LGBTQ+ Students” by Brenda Alvarez, NEA Today, October 2022 (pages 46-48).