Around the world, October 17th 2018 marks the first ever day of worldwide recognition of proper pronoun usage. John F. Kennedy University will honor this special day by offering various programming on the topic, including a brown bag seminar open to the entire JFKU community on October 17th.

Not sure exactly what it means to use the “proper” pronoun? You’re not alone! Join the club of people coming out on this internationally-recognized day to get educated about just what’s what. Referring to people by their preferred personal pronoun is considered basic to human dignity, so the whole idea is to make asking, sharing, and respecting them commonplace. JFKU is excited to help get its community on board, recognizing that developing a foundational awareness and skills surrounding this need is essential to supporting transgender and non-gender-conforming members of the academic community, and toward celebrating all the intersecting identifies found among the University’s diverse student body.

As Benisa Berry, Diversity and Inclusion Officer at JFKU, explains, respect for pronouns falls into the broader category of nurturing diversity and inclusivity. “It’s about being authentic and being able to be yourself at work or at school,” she says. “This topic is something that impacts everyone,” emphasizes Berry. No matter what field you’re in, whether it be psychology, business, or the law, humans need to be aware of each other in order to successfully interact.

In the Bay Area, the concentration of transgender and non-gender-conforming individuals may cause uninformed members of the community to feel ashamed of or frustrated with not understanding pronoun usage. “People are at different levels of knowing about this,” says Berry. “It’s important to get everyone on the same page, and we are creating a safe, non-judgmental environment for students, staff, and our broader community to do so.”

JFKU’s programming surrounding International Pronoun Day will begin on the day itself, October 17th, with a brown bag lunchtime seminar facilitated by members of the JFKU law and psychology programs. The seminar will offer a basic level-setting presentation that aims to get all attendees up to speed on the basics and to open a space for questions and dialogue.

The following month, on November 17th, the University will collaborate with the Rainbow Community Center, a local nonprofit focused on raising awareness of the experience of the LGBTQ community, for an exciting panel discussion as part of JFKU’s Thursday Soapbox series. Whether you’re in-the-know, need to know, or are somewhere in between, come out to exchange information and celebrate pronoun savviness with the JFKU community