Are you – a he, her or they, them, their?

What is going on? Are there no traditional genders any more? I have just read an on-line post from a source which shall be nameless. A person, whose name I had better not state, is referred to, in an on-line post, which contains the sentence ‘……(name) whose pronouns are she/her/hers, discusses the experience of her own child (singular) whose pronouns are they/them/their.’ The post refers to the difficulties for children with significant mental health needs in getting help from the CAMHS service. 

While the issue is real, ie. the reportedly, deplorable response of an external support service – at issue here is the reference to pronouns in the plural, to refer to a singular person (one child…as they/them/their?). Am I alone in simply not getting it?

Further, is mixing up singular with plural pronouns now accepted as grammatically correct? If a child in school writes in this way, because a parent has designated ‘he or she’ to a plural set of pronouns, what then will happen to a teacher who corrects the child’s use of grammar? Or do children whose parents think in these ways ensure that staff in school English departments are aware of a child’s allocated plural pronouns? 

The pandemic has affected all children in one way or another but those with SEND have suffered more than most as support services have not been able to operate as efficiently as before. People with SEND, especially those with underlying health conditions have been more vulnerable to the effects of the virus. Children with SEND are also likely to need more time to catch up and many will have forgotten previously learned skills and knowledge through lack of consistent practice. A SEND Review is currently underway and is timely because the system has not been working as well as it could for many years. 

A recent report initiated by the Children’s Disability Council suggested that well-being has been, and will remain, a major issue to be addressed as we move forward. Meanwhile, what are you? Male or female – if we still have such genders – or both? And will someone please explain to me what this all means, because I am completely baffled. I am not criticising this trend. Nor am I being disrespectful. I simply do not understand it, and fear for the mental health of children. 

Yet I am clear about one thing – positive mental health relies on a person having a sound understanding of who ‘he, she, it, they’ actually is, or are. Positive mental health is surely  underpinned by a positive sense of personal identity. Dare I suggest, that such odd (plural) references do nothing to nurture any child’s mental health. Or am I completely missing the point? 

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