Top 10 tips for day one and beyond: make your class an inclusive and welcoming environment for queer and trans students
Top 10 Tips
Below are our top 10 tips for making your classroom inclusive for QT students. Have other ideas or best practices? email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share them and we'll update our resources for next semester!
Top 10 Tips
Explain students' rights. Explain students have the right to be addressed by the correct name and pronouns. They also have the right to get help and support if misgendered or if called the wrong name. Make resources (like SGD or The Office of Civil Rights and Title IX) available to students proactively.
Model an inclusive introduction by including your pronouns and how others should refer to you in your own introduction to the class and in your syllabus.
Don’t read out first names from your roster for a roll call. This has the potential to “deadname” students (using a former or legal name rather than a current, correct name). Consider alternatives, like bringing name tents for students to write and display their names to the class, calling last names only, or having students introduce themselves, in person or via discussion board. Take notes and use these names for future roll calls.
Provide spaces for students to share their name and pronouns, but make clear this is optional and they should only do so if they feel comfortable. Some options include in-class introductions, discussion board posts, or private emails. Just like you might make a note on your roster if a student tells you their name is shortened/a different name (e.g. crossing out “Jonathan” and writing “John”), make a note next to students’ names of their pronouns so it is always easy to refer to.
Make sure students can communicate to you privately if you should refer to them with a different name or pronouns in private correspondence than you do in class in front of others.
Acknowledge that names and pronouns might change, and at any point a student can share their updated name and pronouns with you and/or with the class.
Note the best policy for mistakes or accidental instances of misgendering: Briefly apologize, correct yourself, and move on. If you notice misnaming or misgendering, connect with the impacted student, check in, and ask how they would like you to assist. Be able to interrupt and correct others (and yourself) if this is what the student asks for.
Practice using students’ correct pronouns outside of their presence (when mistakes won’t hurt them).
If you cannot remember a student’s pronouns in the middle of teaching, use the student’s name, second-person pronouns, or rearrange your sentence to acknowledge them without accidentally misgendering them. E.g., “Thank you, Clara, that is a great point that you just shared with us.”
Delete any instance of this language from the syllabus, old assignments, and so on. While it might take time to unlearn this "rule," “they” has been used as a singular pronoun in English for over 600 years and has been recognized by authorities such as the MLA Style Manual as a non-gendered singular pronoun. Additionally, consider how “he or she” reinforces a binary view, excludes nonbinary students, and works against the messaging you have worked so hard to communicate about your classroom.