Elementary school staffers bragged about outright ignoring parents’ requests to refer to their children by their given names and pronouns late last month, during a virtual panel that saw speakers refer to parents as ‘caregivers.’
The virtual ‘Creating and Sustaining GSAs in Elementary Schools’ meeting, held over Zoom April 26, saw moderator Katy Butler, a second grade public school teacher at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy in San Francisco, poise a question to her fellow panelists concerning pronoun use when it comes to their students.
The inquiry, sent to the group by another, unnamed educator, asked advice on how to deal with parents peeved over teachers’ pronoun use.
‘What should we do if a parent requests that we refer to their child by the pronouns associated with their sex assigned at birth instead of their preferred pronouns, and that we use a legal name instead of a student’s chosen name?’ Butler – who panel organizers billed as a white queer cisgender female teacher on social media – read.
Butler – the creator of Gender Inclusive Classrooms, the group that organized the panel – then gave way for the three other panelists, staffers at public schools across the country, to weigh in on the matter.
One panelist, fellow cocreator Kieran Slattery, a fifth grade teacher in Massachusetts, proceeded to provide his advice on the matter – proudly revealing instances where he ignored parents’ requests to call their child by certain pronouns.
‘So, I can respond with something that I’ve done,’ Slattery, who teaches at Jackson Street Elementary, began.
‘This came up for me – it’s come up in a couple different ways – but it’s come up for me where caregivers asked.’
Slattery said: ‘I actually refer to their child’s name… using the name the name they asked to be referred to and their chosen pronouns, and caregivers reacted very strongly.’
The teacher then detailed how parents ‘followed up with me and the principal, and said, like, “I know you were using a different name than my child’s given name at birth and the pronouns we gave them, and I’m respectfully asking that you use the name and the pronouns that we gave them.”’
Slattery – who panel organizers billed as a ‘white, queer transgender man’ – proceeded to warn the three other panelists of the legal concerns that come with rejecting parents’ requests on how they refer to their children.
‘So the laws in every state are different, obviously, and I can’t speak to the laws in everyone’s particular state, but I will say – again, the resources that we’ll give you after this have some helpful sites where you can look up what the rules are for your state,’ the Northampton elementary school teacher said.