Social Question

Demosthenes's avatar

What do you make of the "pronoun wars"?

Asked by Demosthenes (12567points) 3 months ago
28 responses
“Great Question” (2points)

A subset of broader American culture wars.

There was a widely-publicized news story about a conservative physical education teacher in a liberal Virginia school district who was fired after stating at a public meeting that he would not use students’ preferred pronouns. (He was then reinstated when his firing received negative backlash and was condemned as illegal and unconstitutional). Of course the teacher has now received an outpouring of support for standing up for his Christian values.

How will this fight end? Should teachers be fired for not using preferred pronouns? What is the situation in your school district?

In my opinion, as with all “culture war” issues, this is being exaggerated and trumped up into something bigger than it needs to be by both sides (yep, there’s that phrase some of you will hate). The only reason the teacher spoke out against it was because the school board was discussing a policy to enforce the usage of correct pronouns (thereby creating resistance). It would be nice if this were handled on a case-by-case basis. A teacher might be less likely to resist it if they aren’t being threatened with firing for questioning the policy. But the left wants to codify the orthodoxy at the policy level and the right wants to take up a religious crusade against it. And it’s the few students this applies to who are left feeling more marginalized.

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Answers

ragingloli's avatar

It is a simple issue of treating people with respect.
Treat them as the person they are, not as what you, in your presumptious arrogance, demand them to be.
It costs you absolutely nothing to use their preferred pronouns, and the only you are doing by refusing to do it, is show your disdain for them.
And if that is what you want to do, if you want to express your disdain, disrespect, and disgust for transgender people, if you want to show the world your bigotry, fine. Do that.
Do that honestly. Do not hide behind the excuse of alleged “christian values” to shield yourself from deserved consequences.

stanleybmanly's avatar

The sensible approach is too obvious to everyone. The kid should call the tune.

Demosthenes's avatar

@ragingloli This guy had a whole range of excuses: it’s offending God, it’s child abuse, it’s selling out your soul…I find all that to be a bit disingenuous. It would be nice if people would just admit that the real reason is “I have a problem with trans people and don’t recognize their legitimacy”. Although I understand why someone would hesitate to admit that.

product's avatar

@Demosthenes: “Should teachers be fired for not using preferred pronouns?”

Yes

@Demosthenes: “A teacher might be less likely to resist it if they aren’t being threatened with firing for questioning the policy.”

A teacher who is more likely to resist due to policies that require correct pronouns should be fired, deserves to be, and should be cleaning septic tanks – not teaching.

@Demosthenes: “But the left wants to codify the orthodoxy at the policy level and the right wants to take up a religious crusade against it. And it’s the few students this applies to who are left feeling more marginalized.”

Come on. What are you doing here? This is as simple a topic as they come.

I currently know someone (7th grade) who is dealing with teacher ignorance right now. It’s causing quite a bit of stress and problems. Rather than learning, they are having to deal with some messed-up shit that an old teacher is bringing in to the classroom.

How difficult is it to use correct pronouns?

What is the confusion? What kind of “both sides” struggle are you really dealing with here?

chyna's avatar

Yeah that’s a cop out to blame his Christian values. If he is a true Christian, he knows that God knows what is in his heart and by simply calling a person what they want to be called will in no way compromise his relationship with God. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Shakespere

Demosthenes's avatar

@product The “both sides” aspect is that the left, by taking up an aggressive position on this, is creating more resistance to it. Teachers that might’ve never come out and fought against this are doing so because it’s becoming an identity issue (i.e. “Christians should speak out”). I just think the full on “war” could’ve been avoided.

product's avatar

@Demosthenes: “The “both sides” aspect is that the left, by taking up an aggressive position on this, is creating more resistance to it. Teachers that might’ve never come out and fought against this are doing so because it’s becoming an identity issue (i.e. “Christians should speak out”). I just think the full on “war” could’ve been avoided.”

If you have a child in school right now and they are being traumatized because some fucker refuses to use correct gender, how long do you think is the appropriate time to wait before these people come around? 5 years? 10? The appropriate time is now.

I love the “if people didn’t push back against racism/transphobia/sexism/etc people wouldn’t resist” shtick. It’s an ultra-conservative position that people believe is some kind of middle ground.

So tell me – how could the “war” have been avoided? First, tell me how this is a “war”. What is the solution to teachers who are traumatizing children rather than teaching them?

KNOWITALL's avatar

I think it’s crazy myself.

The adult goes by school policy for 8 hours, not his personal feelings or what his church believes.

I’m a Christian and have no issue with LGBTQ’s. Whether God disapproves or not is between you and Him, not me.

That being said, many of my LGBTQ friends try to educate and gently correct hetero’s here and have a sense of humor about mistakes. So many just move to more liberal areas, many of us are not well educated on these kinds of issues. We could all use a little more grace and understanding on both sides.

kritiper's avatar

A “case-by-case basis?” How complex does this have to be? What’s wrong with a “one size fits all” approach? Wouldn’t that be simpler??

canidmajor's avatar

If a teacher is intentionally creating an environment that will increase the likelihood of a student suicide (look up the statistics, the stress added to the adolescent trans person increases exponentially when they are denied the simplest of identifiers) they should be fired and censured.

There is no right and left here, no “Christian” or other. This is basic decency. When you deliberately refuse to use a person’s preferred name, pronoun, title, address, etc it is grossly disrespectful. When you do that, as a person in authority over children, it is bullying.

Caravanfan's avatar

@ragingloli Is correct. Just be respectful of people. Personally, I have trouble with the pronoun “they” when I am reading in a book, especially if they are in a group. Is the “they” referring to the individual or the group? It’s just confusing. I prefer the pronoun “ze”—that way it’s gender neutral and I know it’s an individual.

But I’m old.

product's avatar

^ I also have a problem with “they” – or at least I did. I’m old (49), but have enough young people around me that I’ve adapted to using “they” in cases that would have made me cringe in the past. I do wish there were a gender-neutral pronoun in English that didn’t have a history of implying plural.

janbb's avatar

@product I had a problem with it initially too but am getting more and more comfortable with it. Language is fluid.

@Caravanfan “Ze” which might have worked just never has caught on. It seems like “they” is the winner.

In professional writing, I always use the s/he pronoun.

And I have to add that I am really, really tired of these “culture wars” that do not serve any good except getting Republicans elected.

Demosthenes's avatar

I’m quite used to singular “they” in cases where the gender is not known or specified, as an alternative to the clunky “he or she” (e.g. “each student should do what they want”). Referring to a specific person as “they” I’m less used to but I have no objection to it.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@janbb It won’t stop quickly because many Reps have a very hard time seperating Church and State due to some parts of the bible.

janbb's avatar

@KNOWITALL Oh, I know.

jellyjellyjelly's avatar

I think it’s obnoxious and disrespectful to refuse to use someone’s preferred pronouns, but I also don’t think people should automatically be fired for being obnoxious and disrespectful.

I also think people can be obnoxious and disrespectful about their pronouns. I knew a woman who identified as such and performed conventionally female gender roles, sometimes in a kind of extreme way (long hair; clothes with ruffles, bows, butterflies, flowers), yet insisted on he/him pronouns and got outraged when friends forgot or strangers assumed incorrectly. It was obnoxious and disrespectful.

Dutchess_III's avatar

That is so not fair to act a certain way and then get butt hurt when people treat you like that’s what you are.
Some people just need drama I guess.

seawulf575's avatar

I think the entire issue has been brought on by the idiotic ideals that do nothing but create confusion. In the old days, if someone used a pronoun (or noun) for you that you didn’t like or didn’t apply, you just corrected the speaker and moved on. There was no life altering angst over it. Example, if someone talking to me referred to me as MR Seawulf and I didn’t think it needed the Mr, I would just say that…It’s just Seawulf. If they continued to use the moniker, that’s on them. It wasn’t a big deal one way or the other. Either they were raised to use terms like that, or they were too dumb to not correct it or they were just being purposely annoying. And with any of those things, it is nothing to me…that is all on them. I don’t control them.

Maybe that is the real issue…some people want to control others, other people don’t, but don’t want to be controlled either.

product's avatar

@seawulf575: “Example, if someone talking to me referred to me as MR Seawulf and I didn’t think it needed the Mr, I would just say that…It’s just Seawulf. If they continued to use the moniker, that’s on them.”

I’m so sorry you went through this. Being referred to by male pronouns by a physical education teacher as a kid while you were going through severe bullying by everyone must have been brutal. Statistically, many people in your position have ended up dead or with a lot of trauma. When did people start using your preferred pronouns (she/her)?

seawulf575's avatar

@product You make several gross assumptions that aren’t there, given the information. You are assuming that the child was being bullied. You are assuming that the teacher was in on the bullying. You are assuming that the teacher even knew the child’s “identity”. If you see a physiological boy who identifies some other way and you refer to that child as “he” or “him” it is a normal thing. You are arguing my points for me, you just don’t know it.

Now, take that simple statement by the teacher…using a term he thought nothing of…and blow it out of proportion. Now you are where you guys on the left have taken this world. That is the confusion. And you are making more gross assumptions on a grander scale that can be grossly damaging to children. Teaching children they get to choose their identity is dangerous, in my opinion. Children are not capable of fully understanding these choices. And while experimenting, they can make really bad decisions that WILL haunt them for years or permanently.

I know a young lady…a good friend of my daughter and of our family. When she was in junior high, she decided she was a lesbian. No biggie…we didn’t think badly of her or anything like that. Except a few years later, she decided she was heterosexual. Again…no biggie for us. But now picture that same decision being made about gender by someone in elementary school or junior high. Suddenly they are doing things to their bodies and psyches that are not easily undone. And which can impact them for the rest of their lives…negatively. And often, these choices result in bullying. So you can add that to the mix.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@seawulf575 I have the feeling that was snark, as you didn’t say anything about identifying as female.
I think the point is that for younger people raised in this PC culture, it could be more hurtful than we older people realize.

Caravanfan's avatar

@janbb I agree that “they” has won out. And I use it and accept it. When I meet someone with a “they” I tell them that I’ll do my best but I’m old and will sometimes slip. They’re usually fine with that as long as I make the effort. I just find it a bit confusing. For example, I had dinner last night with a friend who was taking about his daughter. In conversation he was using the word “they” and I thought he was talking about his daughter and her partner. It took me most of the conversation to realize that they live alone. (See, to me, that sentence is confusing, but to them, it’s not).

janbb's avatar

@Caravanfan I agree. Me too. Old dogs – new tricks!

Caravanfan's avatar

@janbb What’s funny is I even caught him using the word “her” once or twice.

seawulf575's avatar

@KNOWITALL Actually, no snark at all. But you hit the nail on the head: “Younger people raised in this PC culture”. The PC culture is 100% impossible to live in without possibly offending someone at sometime. And the PC culture makes every little thing enormous which makes kids overwhelmed at the start.
And indirectly, you are agreeing with me that the PC culture, as created by the left, is damaging to children. They are urged to make decisions for which they are not mature enough to understand all the implications and then, when human nature takes over and they get ostracized by their peers or picked on or whatever, the damage is done.

doyendroll's avatar

In war it’s interrogative pronouns for me.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@seawulf I meant snark directed at you, buddy. :)

The world is not a safe space, but school and teachers and cops were always supposed to be.

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