"I’m a teacher on tumblr and have students on tumblr. I found a student’s tumblr and discovered ze prefers gender-neutral pronouns. The school is very accepting and all zir’s teachers would be willing to educate themselves about it. However, I don’t want to out the student (without permission, in general, etc.), especially since I haven’t been told directly (nor asked to inform others!). What do you think is the best course of action?"
- Question submitted by Anonymous
OKAY LISTEN. I don’t know what the actual right thing to do is, but I’m going to tell you what I would do and like, you don’t have to listen to me if you don’t wanna.
So, if I were in your position I would talk to WATERBOTTLE (student name) after class. I would literally say, “Listen WATERBOTTLE, I accidentally came across your tumblr and noticed you prefer gender-neutral pronouns, is that something you’d prefer in school, too, or do you keep school/after school separate on purpose?”
Chances are ze will be ELATED that you (1) care enough to ask AND (2) are super into the idea of being respectful and considerate of their wants/needs.
HOWEVER, I would absolutely not approach other teachers before you’ve had this conversation. You just never know. There was a long period of time where I was totally out to my friends and family, but I didn’t feel like having that conversation at work. It’s just a different environment and I wasn’t completely comfortable just yet. This could totally be the case with WATERBOTTLE, so check in before you spread the word.
GOOD LUCK AND ALSO I’M SO GRATEFUL THERE ARE PEOPLE LIKE YOU IN THE WORLD IT MAKES MY HEART SWELL. YOU ARE THE MOST.
I agree. Talk to the student one on one and let them know you are cool with whatever they’d like, take it from there, and - obviously - don’t out the student to others.
Or you could simply start referring them as WATERBOTTLE and see if they are an Everyone Is Gay fan, and then you won’t even need to have the conversation because they’ve already read this and so they know you know and you now know they know you know they know.
Also, no big deal, but we checked in with our friend Zak over at The Art of Transliness to see what he’d do in this situation, and turns out his advice was spot on with Dannielle’s! Here is what Zak advised:
Do your students know you follow them on Tumblr? If so, this particular student might have partially been putting that information out there in hopes that you’d see it. If it wouldn’t be too awkward, perhaps you could take zir aside and let zie know that you found zir blog and/or saw that zie preferred gender neutral pronouns and just ask if zie would like you to start using those pronouns or talk to other people about it for zir. Just letting the student know that you are supportive and that you want to help would be nice.
Zak is pretty amazing, and if you don’t already - you should check out The Art of Transliness!