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Pre-school Teacher Refuses to Change Pronouns for 3 Year Old Child

I am a preschool teacher. I absolutely support gay, lesbian, and trans adults. In the context of a preschool classroom, that means being accepting of all family types and never pressuring children to dress or act a certain way. I do not believe that the children in my care are developmentally able to consent to even a social transition. A social transition is a significant psychosocial intervention that I believe will affect the social development of the child. I am trained in child development, even minor differences in a child’s environment can affect their development in significant ways. I see it play out every day in my classroom.

I am currently working with a teacher that tried to change the pronouns of a three-year-old in our class without even talking to her parents first.

“Lucy uses ‘he/him’ pronouns now.”

“Oh, did her parents let you know?”

“No, but yesterday he told me that he likes ‘he/him’”

“We’re not able to use alternate pronouns for a child this young unless both the parents and a child psychologist are directly asking us to.”

This isn’t a policy at our school, our school is steeped in gender culture, but this is the professional boundary I have arrived at after watching three preschool-age children socially transition in our school who I fear might soon be but on puberty blockers. Puberty is an extremely important phase of development, blocking it is medically dangerous. Have all the teachers forgotten our education in child development?!

This coworker later assured me that they talked to her parents and that they were okay with it. My co-worker lied to me. I think she lied to me because on some level she knows that her behaviour was extremely unprofessional. The parents had no idea what I was talking about.

After this experience I threw out some of the stranger trans books on our classroom bookshelf. I Am Jazz. Dumpster. Meet Polka Dot. Dumpster. Where did we even get these books? Some were ordered in, some were gifted by parents. Gender culture creeps into the classroom organically, almost invisible, from the wider culture. I brought some of it in before I knew about puberty blockers.

I am absolutely fine with children dressing and acting however they want. When they are this young they do not understand what a ‘pronoun’ even is unless they are taught about it. My co-worker taught her about pronouns and sometimes discusses her binder with the children too. What the hell is going on?! I do not discuss my bra with them. Why would anyone think that’s appropriate in a school?

I have been pushing back in small ways. But I have to be cautious. Even that one refusal to change her pronouns was very risky. I suspect that eventually I will lose my job over this. Being consistent with my values is important to me and I feel like I am being coerced into accepting something I don’t agree with every day. It feels terrible.

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