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In the Classroom

At Vassar we invite and never obligate:

No one should feel compelled nor expected to share their pronouns or other personal identity information. However, we do invite those who will to do so, and model it as administrators, faculty and staff whenever possible. Doing so models our understanding that pronouns are important, that gender identity and expression can be fixed or fluid, should not be assumed, and can be different than what legal documents might say. We honor and provide support and space for pronouns to be shared as a form of community building and connection.

We want all of our students able to learn at their best:

Students who feel welcomed, supported and accepted for who they are will be better situated to learn well and contribute much to your classroom. How the semester begins can influence how they learn the entire semester. Vassar has recently implemented a Chosen Name system which allows community members to update their name electronically. This will update your rosters, and most other systems at Vassar. However, if a student doesn’t know, or is unable to update to a Chosen Name you might need to keep track on your roster. Possible first day approaches:

  • Pass around an attendance sheet, asking students to write their names, their legal names (which might be found on a roster), and their pronouns.

  • Pass out index cards or first-day surveys, asking students to write their names, their roster names (if different), and their pronouns and other relevant information, like Year, Major, Languages, Anything I Should Know and so on.

  • Bring supplies for students to make name tents for their desks. Make it clear that you’re asking students to write their name they would like to be referred to in class. Invite students to also include their pronouns. Collect the name tents at the end of class & hand them back to students at the beginning of all subsequent classes. Be sure to make one for yourself as well.

Introductions matter:

  • When you introduce yourself, tell students what you prefer to be called (Professor X or your first name) and, if you’re comfortable doing so, tell them your own pronouns.

  • If you do introductions for the whole class, suggest that students say their names, pronouns, and something related to your course.

  • Allow space for students to change their pronouns. When doing introductions, you could add the following “If your pronouns change over the course of this semester/year please let me, and the class, know.”

  • Don’t assume you can tell what pronouns someone uses based on their appearance.

  • Don’t assume you know the pronouns or gender identities of parents or caregivers.

For additional information and resources:

Jodie Castanza is the Director for Campus Life LGBTQ and Gender Resources and welcomes the opportunity to support your efforts in creating a Trans-Affirming Classroom. Please reach out to her if you have any questions or wish her to be a resource for you or your class. She can also provide additional suggestions and information.

Additional information and resources to support Trans and Non-Binary members of the Vassar community can be found on the LGBTQ Center website:  http://lgbtq.vassar.edu/