Gender-neutral teacher divides parents after requesting fifth-graders use preferred pronouns

Gender-neutral teacher divides parents after requesting fifth-graders use preferred pronouns
An elementary school teacher sent home a letter requesting that her students call her "Mx" (pronounced "Mix) because she prefers to use gender-neutral pronouns. (Getty Images)

A fifth-grade teacher at Canopy Oaks Elementary school in Tallahassee, Florida, made headlines after sending home notices to students’ parents requesting that her pupils address her with gender-neutral pronouns in her classroom.

What did the letter say?

Chloe Bressack, who teaches math and science, sent a letter home which read, “One thing that you should know about me is that I use gender neutral terms. My prefix is Mx. (pronounced Mix). Additionally, my pronouns are ‘they, them, their’ instead of ‘he, his, she, hers.’ I know it takes practice for it to feel natural, but in my experience, students catch on pretty quickly.”

The teacher added, “We’re not going for perfection, just making an effort!” and signed the note, “Mx. Bressack.”

The note was obtained by the Tallahassee Democrat after it was shared in a local moms group on Facebook.

The original poster in the Facebook group shared the image and wrote, “What would your reaction be as a parent of 9- [and] 10 year-olds?”

According to reports, the response to the thread was split, with some parents voicing support for the teacher’s requests, and others questioning her rationale.

One commenter wrote, “Why is this even an issue? The world’s not gonna end because someone wants to be addressed as them/they. It’s their preference and literally does not affect you in any way.”

Another commenter responded, “I’m sorry, but there is no such thing as gender neutral.”

How did the administration react?

The school’s principal, Paul Lambert, told the newspaper that he had received criticism as a result of Bressack’s letter.

“We support her preference in how she’s addressed, we certainly do,” Lambert said.

“I think a lot of times it might be decided that there is an agenda there, because of her preference — I can tell you her only agenda is teaching math and science at the greatest level she can,” he added.

Lambert concluded, “There has been some [contact from concerned parents]: the thing that has brought good understanding is, it’s not a preference that’s being applied to anyone other than the teacher.”

Rocky Hanna, the school district’s superintendent, provided a statement to Fox News and clarified the school’s position on Bressack’s request to use requested pronouns.

Hanna said:

According to Principal Lambert, the teacher addresses students daily by using the pronouns he, she, him and her. The teacher also uses ma’am and sir when responding to students. As a personal preference, however, the teacher simply prefers to be referred to in gender-neutral terms as that of a coach. I can assure you that teachers in our district will not be allowed to use their influence in the classroom to advance any personal belief or political agenda. At this time, I do not believe that is the case in this instance.

Bressack’s history

Bressack declined to be interviewed by the Democrat but issued the following statement to the newspaper: “I feel very lucky to be teaching at Canopy Oaks, and I look forward to working with my students this year.”

Bressack  interviewed in February with Florida A&M’s The Famuan, where she voiced her support for the transgender movement. In the report, the paper identified Bressack as transgender; however, no other reports have confirmed that the teacher is, indeed, transgender.

Bressack visited Washington, D.C., to protest for the rights of transgender people, and when interviewed by the website, said, “They tell me that my gender, my existence, is inappropriate.”

“I had people look me in the eye and tell me that I am selfish for being a teacher, selfish for putting myself into a position where I am around children and exposing them to the transgender lifestyle, whatever that is,” she added.

“I will not be spending my entire life pretending to be someone that I am not,” Bressack concluded. “I refuse to show students that their gender identities are something to be ashamed of. I refuse to show students that their gender identity makes them a danger to other students.”

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