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Anne Arundel County student leaders push for teachers to use preferred pronouns in email signatures

An Anne Arundel County student council has started a campaign during Pride Month asking teachers to designate their preferred pronouns in emails.

Beckett Hummer, the outgoing Secretary of Education for the Chesapeake Regional Association of Student Councils (CRASC), thought of the campaign idea during a recent meeting.

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“I thought about what action steps could we take to make a difference and what change could we make in this month to help students or teachers in whatever way possible,” Hummer said.

CRASC is the representative organization of all students enrolled in the secondary schools of the school system, created to develop leadership skills, promote good sportsmanship and initiate improvements and activities for the general good of county students.

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The campaign distributes an email for students to use when contacting their teachers that asks teachers to designate their preferred pronouns in their emails. They are also encouraging the teachers to use students’ preferred pronouns. Hummer created an easy template for students to email their teachers.

“Teachers don’t realize what kind of impact this could have, it pushes for the teachers to have pronouns but also to be more aware of people’s gender identities,” Hummer said.

Having pronouns isn’t just for LGBTQ+ people, it is for everyone to make it easier to communicate, she added.

Russell C. Leone, President of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County, said the union supports teachers putting their pronouns in emails but they don’t have an official position on the campaign.

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“We do support our students’ efforts to truly promote inclusivity, this is an honorable effort they are doing,” Leone said.

Since virtual learning, Hummer believes some teachers don’t know what their students look like and this campaign could help with being aware.

“This is bigger than just CRASC, anyone can use it and I think it is an important step for anyone to take, this one simple thing could make so many feel more included,” said Hummer, who may try to win an appointed CRASC position after her term as education secretary ends Wednesday. She’s also considering running for the Anne Arundel County Board of Education student member role next year.

The Anne Arundel County Board of Education voted to approve a policy Wednesday that would protect a student’s right to be addressed by a name and pronoun that matches their gender identity, and their right to use school bathrooms that correspond with that identity.

Instead of just a right to use school facilities that align with a person’s gender identity, students will be able to use “safe and non-stigmatizing facilities.”

“It has been a long process of this policy and moving to these guidelines for all LGBTQ+ students, it’s a great step in the right direction. This will help all students in Anne Arundel County and that will be huge,” Hummer, whose mother used to be on the county Board of Education, said.

Guidelines from Anne Arundel County Public Schools administration already include gender-affirming rights on both the student and staff level, but a policy approved by the board would be stronger because it couldn’t change with a new superintendent. The proposed policy deals with student behavior and a reference to it would be included in the Student Handbook.

“Without public support, students and parents this would have never reached the board and the constant push for students’ voice makes this matter,” Hummer said.

Reporter Rachael Pacella contributed to this article.

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