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Diversity Lunch Talk: The Whys and Hows of Pronoun Use in the Classroom

Event Details

October 17, 2018
12:00 pm-1:30 pm

Campus Center

Room: 903

UMass Amherst Campus

Handicap access available
Kirsten Helmer

Come for free pizza and salad.“Yes, Using ‘They’ in the Singular Is OK: The Whys and Hows of Pronoun Use in the Classroom”

UMass now gives students the ability to indicate their pronouns in SPIRE, which appear on class rosters. Why is this important? How should instructors use this information? What if an instructor makes a mistake in referring to a student? How can instructors best respond if students make a mistake in referring to another student in their class? Join  Dr. Genny Beemyn (Director, Stonewall Center) and Dr. Kirsten Helmer (TEFD) for this interactive presentation that will engage participants with these and other questions so that instructors can best respect students of all gender identities and expressions

Session Goals

  • Provide information about best practices related to the use of nonbinary pronouns.
  • Practice possible responses whensomeone makes a mistake in referring to a student.

Who should attend? All faculty and graduate student TAs/TOs, Student Affairs staff, other staff.

This event is part of the monthly Diversity Lunch Talks offered by The Institute for Teaching Excellence & Faculty Development (TEFD) through its Diversity & Inclusive Teaching Professional Development Series. 

More information on Diversity Lunch Talks offered by TEFD.

Presenter Information: Genny Beemyn, Ph.D., is the Director of the UMass Stonewall Center and the Trans Policy Clearinghouse coordinator for Campus Pride ( They have written or edited nine books/journal issues. Genny's most recent works includes The LGBTQIA+ Supportive Campus: Providing Programs and Services for LGBTQIA+ Students (with Luca Maurer; PaperClip Communications, 2016). They are currently working on a book entitled Campus Queer: Addressing the Needs of LGBTQ+ College Students(with Mickey Eliason; Johns Hopkins University Press) and an anthology entitled Trans People in Higher Education (SUNY Press).

Kirsten Helmer, Ed.D., is Director of Programming for Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity and Lecturer with TEFD.  Kirsten designs and offers a range of workshops on teaching inclusively and equitably. She is available for one-on-one consultations and also works with departments. Kirsten has taught courses on multicultural education, anti-racism, intergroup dialogue, queering the curriculum, exploring gender and sexuality diversity, multicultural children’s literature, and German language. With ‘Queer Literacies’ she developed a multidimensional approach to reading LGBTQI-themed literature with students. Her dissertation titled "Reading Queerly in the High School Classroom: Exploring a Gay and Lesbian Literature Course" can be accessed through:


The Campus Center is located in the middle of campus at 1 Campus Center Way. Parking is available in the Campus Center Garage.

More details on directions and parking.