CSU’s new pronouns website includes pronoun statement resources as well as a statement and corresponding video affirming CSU’s commitment to creating a culture and climate that respects all identities.
Colorado State University has a new website designed to help educate the University community on personal pronouns in an effort to create a more inclusive and welcoming campus environment.
The new website, launched by the Office of Inclusive Excellence in the lead-up to International Pronouns Day on Oct. 20, features information on how to learn more about using correct pronouns and why pronouns matter for transgender and nonbinary people. The site also includes a statement and video affirming CSU’s commitment to creating a culture and climate that respects all identities.
Meg Skeehan, a program assistant in the Department of Accounting who serves on the Commission on Diversity and Inclusion, played a key role in developing the site over the past three years. Skeehan said that the committee conducted significant research in creating the site’s content.
“We want to educate people to be better at sharing pronouns and respecting folx who don’t use binary pronouns — and also not making assumptions about folx’s pronouns,” Skeehan said.
Skeehan explained that the pronouns site features videos as well as helpful tips on how to integrate pronouns into meetings and events as well as communications.
The new website also provides links to videos and posters for easy sharing, as well as tips for how to create a cultural shift in classrooms, residence halls and more, where sharing and respecting pronouns can become a norm.
According to CSU’s Pride Resource Center, transgender and nonbinary students face mental health issues at far greater rates than their peers. Maggie Hendrickson, assistant director of the Pride Resource Center, cited National College Health Assessment findings from 2017 and 2019.
“We know that one in two of our LGBTQIA+ students feel they do not belong at CSU, and one in four of our LGBTQIA+ students seriously considers suicide each year,” Hendrickson said. “This is alarming data for us to know about our campus community, and it takes the whole community to work together to support our queer and trans siblings.”
Hendrickson explained that respecting someone’s pronouns, true name and identities is shown to increase young trans and nonbinary people’s sense of belonging. According to the Trevor Project’s National Survey on LGBTQ+ Youth Mental Health, respecting someone’s pronouns and name corresponds with lowering suicide attempts by 50%.
“Often times, the focus for encouraging shifts in language is on how we may be limiting folx’s ability to share, learn and express themselves,” Hendrickson said. “Queerness has always been about honoring opening, expansiveness and creation – and the Pronoun Statement aligns with that. We’re creating more opportunity for self-determination and inclusion. It is an invitation to open up and seek consent of others through our language.”
International Pronouns Day
For International Pronouns Day on Oct. 20, the Pride Resource Center in the Lory Student Center will be open to the community, sharing resources and refreshments.
Members of the center will be on hand to showcase the new website, video and statement and share additional educational information. They also will have new CSU pronouns buttons and posters available for the community.
Hendrickson added that the pronouns website provides a crucial step toward acceptance and equity.
“More and more of our students and employees are joining CSU with a nuanced understanding of gender, identity, expression and pronouns; and as an educational institution, it is part of CSU’s mission to provide resources for learning for those who are still in progress,” Hendrickson said.
In addition to the website, Skeehan will be hosting a virtual pronouns workshop at the Diversity Symposium on Oct. 27 with Assistant Professor Kari Dockendorff, Ph.D., Pride Resource Director Ashley Grice, Ed.D., Hendrickson and Patrice Palmer, director of Social and Cultural Inclusion in the College of Business.
The session will feature interactive group discussions to help CSU community members learn more about pronouns.
“We have evidence from the Employee Climate Survey in 2018 that trans and nonbinary employees have lower positive perceptions of how they’re respected at work,” said Skeehan, who has chaired the Classified Personnel Council. “Knowing that, we want to focus on creating a campus community that is inclusive, shows respect, and centers social justice in day-to-day activities and interactions.”