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Do they know their usefulness?: An Essay About the Attitudes Towards the Use of Gender-neutral Pronouns in a Classroom Setting
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2019 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (professional degree), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesisAlternative title
Do They Know Their Usefulness? : An Essay About the Attitudes Towards the Use of Gender-neutral Pronouns in a Classroom Setting (English)
Abstract [en]

The field of language and gender is vast with many subcategories and fields of research however, when it comes to the term gender-neutral there are different angles to gender-neutrality one might approach. This particular study will not be looking at every single one of those types of gender-neutrality, but rather look into the use of the gender-neutral pronouns, specifically they/them in a school and classroom setting. This paper will aim to find a general, overlapping attitude towards using gender-neutral pronouns. Attitude, in this case, has chosen to be defined through Dragojevic's (2018) definition of the term where attitude is an "evaluated reaction to different language varieties". There have not been large amounts of research done on the use of they/them singular in general due to it still being a fairly new asset to the English language. It has much less so been researched in a school or in a classroom setting which is why this essay aims to investigate the way it is used, the benefits and setbacks, and most importantly, the current attitudes towards using they/them in a classroom setting held by both teachers as well as trans people. The data has been retrieved through conversational interviews with teachers and trans people (Friedland & Penn, 2001). The interviews with teachers were conducted at an English speaking school, and the interviews with trans people were conducted through skype sessions with individuals who had experience with gender-neutral pronouns who also have experience of the English language in a school setting. The general consensus seems to be that they/them is a positive asset both in speech and writing both grammatically and socially, and the attitudes seem majorly positive. However, most of the problems seem to occur with implementing the use of they/them in daily life and it seems to be something that will be learned with time and correction from colleagues or students when for example he/she is used in a position where they/them could be used instead. The results point towards a strong awareness and will to use they/them in method but that it can be hard to use it in practice if not used constantly until it becomes a habit. The trans people responded to the interview generally stating that mostly he/she has been used and that the implementation of they/them would have made them feel more included and safe in the classroom as well as with the teacher.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 39
Keywords [en]
Language and gender, linguistics, gender-neutrality, queer linguistics, teaching, gender-binary, LGBTQ+
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-178367OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-178367DiVA, id: diva2:1388555
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2020-02-09 Created: 2020-01-25 Last updated: 2020-02-09Bibliographically approved

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