This page will provide faculty and staff with tips, tools, and resources to be more inclusive and supportive to LGBTQIA+ students at Ramapo.
The classroom is a crucial place to support LGBTQIA+ students. It is a place of learning, discovery, and growth. It is often that LGBTQIA+ students perform poorly in their academic and social life in college or even drop out due to a lack of support and inclusion in the classroom, as well as other areas on campus.
Below are some tips on how to best support LGBTQIA+ students to create a conducive learning environment for all students.
To create a comfortable learning environment, beginning with guidelines in the beginning can set the tone for how the classroom will operate. Statements such as “It is expected that everyone will be respectful of one another including identities, names, and pronouns,” helps to set the tone and expectations for the semester.
Being the Example
Modeling inclusive and supportive language and behavior is a great way to set expectations of your class as well. Introducing yourself with your name and pronouns and encouraging the class to do the same is one way to be a model. Example: “My name is Tyler and my pronouns are she, her, and hers.” It also gives others a chance to self-identify and inform everyone of their pronouns before they can be misidentified in the classroom. Putting your pronouns in your email signature is another way to be a model.
Addressing the class with gender inclusive phrases such as “Hey Everyone/Folks/Class/Leaders/etc.” is a great way to be inclusive in the classroom. Addressing the class with gender specific phrases such as “Hey Guys/Ladies and Gentlemen/Boys and Girls” “Mr. Johnson/Ms. Johnson” can create an uncomfortable and exclusive environment and can lead to misidentifying someone. Other examples include “People, children, partners, significant others” rather than “Men and women, males and females, boys and girls, boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, etc.)
Including statements such as the Notice of Non-Discrimination in your syllabus can help support the message that the classroom is expected to be a safe and inclusive place for all. Including your pronouns on your syllabus can continue to reinforce the importance of pronouns to your students and an relay the message that you are working to be supportive and inclusive of transgender students. Include campus resources in your syllabus can be beneficial to all of your students:
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Other Helpful Tips
The National Center for Transgender Equality – An Introduction to Transgender People
The Chronicle of Higher Education – ‘Ask Me’: What LGBTQ Students Want Their Professors to Know
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Names and Pronouns
Not everyone identifies within the gender binary (man and woman) and may identify as transgender. To affirm their gender identity, people may use a name and pronouns different than what was given to them at birth. It is important to use the name and pronouns a person uses to create a safe, inclusive, and affirming learning environment. Avoid making assumptions based on name on the class roster or a students appearance. This can lead to misgendering a student.
If you know a person’s previous name and pronouns, it is vital not to use that name and pronouns for that person’s safety and growth.
It is important to know that not only transgender people use different names than the name given to them at birth. Any person of any identity may use a different name for a number of reasons. It is still important to use the name that person uses for their safety and growth.
The best way to know a person’s name and/or pronouns is to ask them. Pass a sign in sheet around the classroom for attendance rather than a roll call. Have students state their name and pronouns during introductions and when they speak in class.
There will be times when you may make a mistake and that is okay. It is important to address that mistake. Saying phrases such as “I apologize…” and correcting your mistake or “I’m sorry, what I meant to say was….” works well to address our mistakes. Pronouns can be tricky. Practice pronouns here.
Correcting others when they make mistakes or even say something offensive or exclusive can seem to be difficult. Calmly pointing out the mistake and having a conversation makes for a comfortable correction. If someone misidentifies someone first, make sure the person who was misidentified is public with their identity. Outing someone is dangerous and not safe. It is important to correct that person whether the misidentified person is present or not.
When approached with a new identity, it is normal to become curious and want to ask questions. Be careful not to ask questions that you would not ask of someone whose identity you are familiar with. “Thank you for sharing your identity with me.”; “What does that [identity] mean to you?”; “How can I be supportive of you?”; “What resources do you need?”; and “Are you out to anyone else?” are examples of questions you can ask if you are unsure of what to ask when approached with a new identity. Asking if someone is out to anyone else is important to that person’s safety.
Know that sharing an identity does not always mean a person is reaching out for help or resources, they could simply just be sharing their identity. Be careful not to overwhelm someone with resources and information.