A fifth-grade math and science teacher, Chloe Bressak, at Canopy Oaks Elementary School in Florida told students to refer to her with gender-neutral pronouns in the classroom, using they/them pronouns instead of he or she. In addition, the teacher asked students to call her “Mx. Bressack” (pronounced ‘Mix’) as opposed to “Ms. Bressack,” sending the request home in a letter.
The letter became viral on a Facebook group, Tally Moms Stay Connected, where conservative and liberal mothers debated the usage of gender-neutral language.
According to USAToday, the letter reads:
“…my pronouns are ‘they, them, their’ instead of ‘he, his, she, hers.’ I know it takes some practice for it to feel natural, but students catch on pretty quickly.”
The principal of the elementary school, Paul Lambert, defended the teacher, releasing the following statement:
“We support her preference in how she’s addressed, we certainly do. 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.”
The principal also acknowledged the calls to the front office regarding the letter.
“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.”
Since the letter was sent home to parents, the teacher issued an apology surrounding the controversy.
“My practice in addressing my students is to refer to them by their personal pronouns, be ‘he, she, or they.’ We work together to create a positive environment of respect and understanding. I understand that students will not always address me in the way I prefer, and that is okay. We keep moving with a smile and continue on with our learning. In our classroom, our learning and our well-being is the priority.”
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