On this page you'll find some suggested practices for creating inclusive educational spaces for LGBTQ+ students. Much of the information here has been adapted from Michigan State University.
Pronouns and Chosen Name
- Using a student’s name and pronouns can help create a positive learning environment for LGBTQA+ students.
- Please use the name a student asks you to use.
- Please use the pronouns a student asks you to use.
- Do not refer to pronouns as “preferred pronouns.” Please refer to them as “pronouns” or “personal pronouns.”
Use Inclusive Language
- Check your assumptions about a student’s identity, sexuality, pronouns, marital/relationship status, and/or the gender of their partner(s).
- Use gender-inclusive language when speaking generally. For example, refrain from using phrases like “ladies and gentleman” and “you guys.”
- Avoid or expand honorifics. Refrain from using gendered honorifics like “Mr.” or “Ms.” If you do use honorifics, allow students to select the honorific that best aligns with their identity and include “Mx.” as an option. “Mx.” is pronounced “mix” or “mixter” and is often used as an honorific for nonbinary, agender, and genderqueer people.
- Listen for, honor, and mirror the language a student uses to self-identify.
- Keep up to date on current terminology and avoid problematic language. Check out our LGBTQ+ glossary.
Calling Roll and Addressing Students
- If a student shows up to an appointment, please refrain from calling out their legal name. Instead, use their last name or their chosen name.
- Please do not simply call roll at the beginning of class. Instead, consider asking students to go around the room and introduce themselves. This allows students the opportunity to share the name they use and pronounce their name correctly for you. Allowing students to name themselves provides our students with a chance to share a name that may be different from their legal name–something of particular importance to the trans and nonbinary community.
- In addition to asking students to share their name to introduce themselves, consider asking students to share their personal pronouns. Here is an easy script for how to introduce pronouns at the beginning of class:
“We’re going to begin today by spending some time getting to know one another. Instead of calling roll, I would like us to go around the room and share some information about ourselves so that we can start building our learning community. I would like for each of you to share your name, your class year, your major, your pronouns, and one thing you want to get out of our semester together. For some of you sharing your pronoun may feel new or different. Sharing our pronouns is one easy way in which we make our class more inclusive. Personal pronouns are words that are used to describe us in place of our names. Most people use “he/him/his” or “she/her/hers.” Some people use “they/them/theirs” or another set of gender neutral pronouns. Some people just ask others to use their name. Using the pronouns a person asks you to use shows your respect for them. I would request that all of us try out sharing our pronouns, but I understand that for some transgender, nonbinary, and genderqueer students, sharing your pronouns in this space, might not feel comfortable just yet and that’s okay. I will get us started.
- My name is Professor .
- My pronouns are .
- My major was .
- And, one thing I’m hoping to get out of this class is .
Okay. Who would like to go next?"
- Consider including your personal pronouns on your syllabi with your name and contact information.
- Consider including language regarding name and gender change on your syllabus. Suggested language is as follows:
In Class Discussions and Lectures
- When calling on a student, use the name and pronouns they have asked you to use.
- Do not rely on LGBTQ+ students to speak for all LGBTQ+ people. They are experts on their own experience, but that does not mean they are able to speak for a community as diverse as the LGBTQ+ community.
- Be mindful of LGBTQ+ stereotypes.
- Interrupt bias when it happens and model inclusive behavior.
- Include LGBTQ+ topics and identities, share the stories of LGBTQ+ people, and assign readings by LGBTQ+ authors.
- Please do not assign students to attend an LGBTQ+ student organization meeting to observe. Encourage them to attend an event on LGBTQ+ topics.
- Please do not assign LGBTQ+ students LGBTQ+ specific work, unless everyone else is participating. If students are allowed to select their own project or research topic, encourage all students to consider a wide range of topics, including ones related to LGBTQ+ topics and identities.
- Please do not ask LGBTQ+ students to speak for all of their identity group.
- Information adapted from Michigan State University
Additional Suggested Practices
- Maintain solid boundaries. Sometimes when a person learns about the sexual or gender identity of another person, they feel that the boundaries of the relationship have altered. It is important that we keep in mind that when it comes to our students, the boundaries have not shifted. For example, if you learn a student is transgender, it is not okay to ask them about their hopes for future surgeries.
- Educate yourself on LGBTQ+ identities and topics. Do not rely on your LGBTQ+ students to be the primary resource of your knowledge on this topic. What they share with you should complement your learning.