Students at an Illinois high school are requesting the school board mandate the use of their preferred pronouns in classrooms as part of an effort to prevent any "misgendering" of students.
Nova Horrell and Maisy Kobernik-Pollack, both seniors from Evanston Township High School, addressed the school board during a Nov. 8 meeting, according to North Cook News. The students called on the school board to implement new policies for the fall 2022 semester that would require students to state which pronouns they prefer to go by at school, and then, if willing, they can share their pronouns "gallery"-style on a classroom wall that will be updated every couple months.
"Right now, some classes don't allow students the chance to share their pronouns, increasing the chance that they will be misgendered," Horrell said.
NOT USING PREFERRED PRONOUNS A HUMAN RIGHTS OFFENSE, CANADIAN TRIBUNAL RULES
When students are "misgendered," it produces a variety of "negative psychological effects," Horrell said, adding that a "maximalist approach" was also used, which was "equally as harmful."
"Being transgender is a beautiful thing," said Kobernik-Pollack.
In addition to addressing the board, the students created a survey, which garnered 146 responses. The survey asked students about how teachers have been addressing "gender identity this school year."
"You have classes that can put students who are questioning (their sex) or closeted on the spot, forcing them to either choose to out themselves there, which can lead to immediate physical violence at worst," said Horrell, adding that for some of the students whose parents aren't supportive, students have an "increased chance" of being homeless.
Horrell said that "if teachers know not to use the name you go by at school with your parents, it makes you feel safer."
After receiving responses from more than 130 students, Horrell and Kobernik-Pollack drafted a letter to school administrators requesting that "change needs to occur" while suggesting that "all teachers provide a private space" to ask students which pronouns they "use at home" and which pronouns they want to be "referred to as at school."
"The way our culture, as a school, city, and nation, has evolved when it comes to the topic of gender has been astonishing," the letter began. "The rate of trans visibility has skyrocketed. At the same time, both anti- and pro-trans actions and rhetoric have seen similar growth."
The letter said that while the administration at the school had adopted a "good-faith approach" in order to make transgender students feel safer, responses from the survey showed that students had mixed feelings.
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"They make it seem like they care, but they really don't," one response from the survey read, while another said, "I think in theory, there's a lot of good things the school does, but in practice, they aren't accessible to most trans and [gender nonconforming] students."
The Washington Examiner reached out to Evanston Township High School for a comment but did not receive a response back.