Pronoun guidance to be launched

Karen Murphy
Friday 5 March 2021

In March of 2020 the Proctor asked a group of staff and students to work together on developing a guidance document for the University community related to use of pronouns. The group decided to focus on two outputs: a short guidance document for staff and students outlining a suggested approach to using pronouns, and an accompanying video.

The guidance document seeks to explain some of the concepts around pronoun use and to help staff and students develop practice that contributes to creating an inclusive environment for all members of the St Andrews community. A number of members of the St Andrews community feel that their gender identity cannot be simply defined by the expected binary terms of ‘man’ or ‘woman’. Instead, they experience their gender in another way. Typically, we refer to this group of people as being ‘non-binary’. Instead, they identify as either having a gender which is in-between or beyond the two categories ‘man’ and ‘woman’, as fluctuating between ‘man’ and ‘woman’, or as having no gender, either permanently or some of the time.

There are some steps we can take when using pronouns to be inclusive as possible to non-binary colleagues and students such as using their preferred name and pronouns, asking if you’re not sure, and apologising if you make a mistake. Examples of inclusive practice can also be found in the guidance video, narrated by members of the University community.

At a recent Education Strategic Management Group meeting, a decision was made to make viewing the video part of the mandatory suite of diversity awareness training that all staff and PGRs who teach complete. For students, the video will be part of the online Moodle module students access as part of matriculation. The resources aim to help deliver on the University’s strategic plan that diversity and inclusion should be at the heart of the St Andrews experience, and should inform all that we do. As a truly international and world-class university, our ambition is to be a beacon of inclusivity.

The guidance and video will be rolled out later in March via multiple channels, and EDI Directors in Schools will be briefed next week.

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