Slate, the pioneering web magazine that once had an interesting balance of commentary, jumped the woke shark long ago; I almost never bother with it any more. It carries an especially annoying Social Justice Warrior family advice column, “Care and Feeding,” whose writer, Doyin Richards, founder of the Anti-Racism Fight Club, is obsessed with “diversity, equity and inclusion.”
A teacher calling herself “Pronoun Problems” wrote in part,
On my first day, in an attempt to create an inclusive learning environment, I passed out an icebreaker worksheet that asked several questions, including preferred pronouns. This ended up backfiring. I live in a blue state, but in a suburban area with plenty of conservatives. It’s not uncommon to see a house with a Trump sign right next to a house with a Black Lives Matter sign. Consequently, while I had plenty of students who answered the question honestly, I also had lots of students who wrote their pronouns as “nor/mal” or “attack helicopter.” I feel like it started things off on the wrong foot. It gave me a negative first impression about some of the students, which I don’t think is a healthy mindset for a teacher. Worst of all, I’m afraid I ended up only creating a more hostile learning environment for my trans and non-binary students. The students didn’t necessarily see each other’s answers, but I basically gave some students a platform to express their transphobic views. After my contract ended, I got hired by a different school district, this time teaching eighth grade. I’m worried that if I give out the same icebreaker worksheet, even more of the students will write transphobic “joke” answers. At the same time, I’m glad I was able to learn the correct pronouns for my students and avoid misgendering them in class. How should I go about this in the future? Should I scold them or call them out? Or should I just grin and bear it for the sake of the students who take pronouns seriously?
The reply from Doyin is what you would expect (it begins, You absolutely did the right thing by creating the icebreaker activity; your only errors were not setting ground rules and not explaining why this is important…”). If you want to read it, it’s here.
My answer would be the following: