Archive for May 27th, 2021


Using Pronouns

May 27, 2021

Take a close look

In the fall of 2017 I included a series of six blog posts called Who Are They? Portland Stage that described the education program at that time of Portland Stage. I worked with two of the education staff from Portland Stage, Hannah Cordes and Julianne Shea. Both are positive, upbeat and happy people who have a natural sense of theater education along with their formal education in the area. It was a delight to learn about their programs and work with them. You can search for those posts in the side bar.

Not long afterwards I noticed that people were beginning to use ‘pronouns’ and it dawned on me that I needed to become educated in this area. I couldn’t find anything online or recommended readings so I reached out to Hannah since they were one of the people in my communications that I noticed using pronouns in their ‘signature’. She willingly met for a cup of coffee to discuss the topic. My main goal was to be sensitive and respectful in my blog writing. Hannah’s teaching and advice helped me enormously and I went from asking “what is this all about, will it go away, and how do I get started?” to “OK, this is fairly straightforward to understand and it really is about being respectful.” The other thing I learned and most importantly was it was OK to make mistakes in this area.

Now that I’m back in the classroom and interacting with young people on a regular basis my focus on pronouns is not just important in my writing but also face to face. I was happy to find this quick guide to pronouns recently published online by Upworthy called Why pronouns are important, how to get them right, and what to do if you slip up. Most of what Hannah shared with me five years ago is explained in this piece and spelled out more comprehensively. I notice the use of pronouns today in almost every corner of my world; email signatures, on zoom, in articles, research and books. I remember asking Hannah if she thought this was a fad and would it go away. The answer was no and now I agree. If you’re not comfortable with pronouns and are wondering where to start this guide may be useful. Most importantly, at the heart of using pronouns is being respectful and kind to students, colleagues, families in your professional and personal lives. I’m sure you’ll agree – that’s a good thing!

Respectfully, Argy Nestor, she/her

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