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Supporters rally for preferred pronouns and names in Utah schools outside board meeting

Posted at 11:57 AM, Sep 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-03 14:29:17-04

SALT LAKE CITY — This morning, people in support of students using their preferred names and pronouns in schools rallied outside the Utah state board of education as a committee met to discuss the issue.

The guidance document being discussed is called Understanding Gender Identity to Better Support Students. Many people in the community have opposing views about it, however the people rallying on Friday say they’re encouraged by the policy.

“Just the simple respect of using the pronouns that a student prefers can save their lives,” said Kelly Whited Jones, a teacher and parent in the Davis School District.

READ: Statewide guidance on preferred names, pronouns in Utah schools up for discussion

Whited Jones wants students to know that they’re not alone, and that the community stand with them.

“I hope that our students can see that we stand in support of them. We recognize the challenges that they face, and we will walk with them, talk with them, we will not be silenced as teachers in our classroom,” said Whited Jones.

The policy being discussed talks about laws, policies and best practices for educators when it comes to students preferred names and pronouns in the classroom.

“When the teacher uses the pronouns that they like, the children are going to feel validated, respected, and more importantly they’re going to feel loved, and they also aren’t going to feel empty inside or rejected, and so these teachers doing this, can be a difference of life or death for some of these wonderful students,” said Genevra Prothero, Utah Citizens for Positive Change.

While people at the rally support the policy, there are some changes they would like to see.

“Practicing the policy they’re suggesting, would not allow teachers to then use those pronouns, unless they consulted the parents, and that can be a problem because sometimes school is the only affirming place that a student has,” said Whited Jones.

But not everyone agrees with that thought.

“These conversations create a safety net for the student and shows the parents and the school are on the same page. Similarly open communication with parents about a students gender identity or any other issue, will always be best for the student,” said Parent Jon England.

The school board plans to have further discussions about this policy.