Bates faculty create guidelines for 'inclusive' classrooms

Bates College has produced a guide for faculty on “creating an inclusive classroom environment” that advises the use of “partner” in place of “husband or wife.”

According to a copy of the guide obtained by Campus Reform, Bates faculty are advised to “review the terminology in the GSM [Gender and Sexual Minorities] community” to identify potentially non-inclusive terms to avoid in class, for example by using “gender neutral terms such as partner instead of husband or wife.”

Due to the “myriad of ways to identify within the GSM community,” the inclusive-classroom guide recommends that faculty members “be open and accepting of correction” in cases of “misgendering, using insensitive language, [and] assuming heteronormativity.”

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“You won't always know and/or understand the terminology used,” the guide warns. “Encourage your students to speak up if they’re uncomfortable, and be, yourself, open to corrections.”

Not only does the guide ask professors to apologize for their “misgendering,” but it also encourages them to be “visible” and “active” allies, specifically telling them to “take the initiative and make visible that you are supportive of GSM students by modeling supportive and affirming behaviors, including your choice of language and inclusion of GSM literature in your office.”

When it comes to determining student pronouns, the guide recommends that faculty be “sure” they “respect people’s pronouns” without putting transgender students on the spot, either by passing out a survey to all students requesting pronouns along with other personal information, or by having students share their pronouns as part of classroom introductions.

Similarly, the document suggests coyly asking students to indicate their preferred first names, because “using incorrect names, similar to incorrect pronouns, can be uncomfortable, at best.”

The guide also encourages faculty members to “establish guidelines for respectful classroom dialogue,” particularly ones that will allow them “to interrupt inappropriate language, correct heteronormative assumptions, stop insensitive jokes, and address inappropriate behaviors.”

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Finally, the inclusive-classroom recommendations admonish professors to “never make assumptions about anyone’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity,” and instead to “rely only on self-identification.”

Notably, the guide was created by the school’s “Support. Perspective. Allyship. Representation. Qmunity.” (SPARQ) organization, which cited “barriers” that “inhibit [faculty] to be up-to-date on best practices and policies” as its motivation for creating the document.

“The document includes information that we feel will benefit the education endeavor by nourishing a respectful student-faculty relationship,” the group writes. “We hope this helps you build a more inclusive classroom environment for your students.”

Campus Reform reached out to Bates College for comment on the matter, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AGockowski