A Reminder About Pronouns

Humber College is committed to fostering a respectful and inclusive culture in which all members of the College community study, work and live free from discrimination and harassment. The College has the right, as well as the legal and moral responsibility, to ensure that all its members are treated fairly, equitably, and respectfully, in order to provide a learning, working and living environment free from discrimination and harassment on the basis of gender identity and gender expression; and one in which transgender and non-binary individuals are included, respected and encouraged to reach their potential as members of the College community.

Discrimination and harassment based on gender identity and gender expression are prohibited under the Ontario Human Rights Code (Code). The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) defines gender identity as "each person's internal and individual sense of being a woman, a man, both, neither, or anywhere along the gender spectrum." Our names and pronouns are two fundamental ways we express gender and how others perceive our gender. The words people use to describe themselves and others are very important. The OHRC also reminds us that "The right terms can affirm identities and challenge discriminatory attitudes. The wrong ones can disempower, demean and reinforce exclusion".

Pronouns such as she/her and he/him do not fit everyone's gender identity. There are numerous other pronouns a person can use, such as they/them/theirs, ze/zir/zirs, ey/em/eir, etc. We cannot assume a person's gender identity from their pronouns. Humber's Gender Diversity Policy states, "All individuals within the College community are entitled to be referred to by the gender pronoun(s) of their choice." Under the Code and Humber's Human Rights Policy and Gender Diversity Policy, everyone has the right to self-identify their gender. "Misgendering," referring to someone with the incorrect pronouns, is a form of harassment. (source)

It is increasingly common for people to introduce themselves with their pronouns or to include them in email signatures- great steps towards increased inclusion. However, no one should ever be forced, compelled, or pressured to share their pronouns publicly, i.e., at a meeting or in a classroom. This may have the effect of making the person feel they have no option but to "out" themselves. "Outing" is the act of disclosing a 2SLGBTQ+ person's sexual orientation or gender identity without that person's consent or without the person feeling safe or ready to do so. Outing someone would be a violation of Humber's Gender Diversity Policy, Human Rights Policy, and the Code. Consider asking people to share their pronouns only if they are comfortable and having an option to do so privately.

If you have questions about pronouns, please contact Kathryn Edgett, Advisor, Human Rights, Equity & Inclusion at kathryn.edgett@humber.ca.

Thank you for your continued commitment to an inclusive working, learning and living environment at the College.