Canvas update has option for gender-neutral pronouns


Photo by Matt Hampton

Students at Lindenwood are now able to select pronouns to display after their name on Canvas.

Daniel Bell-Nguyen, Reporter

Canvas, a course management website Lindenwood uses, has new settings to allow faculty and students to identify their preferred pronouns on their profile.

Lindenwood Online, Academic Services, and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion collaborated to facilitate the option for “they/them” pronouns on Canvas and helped spread the message to students.

Brittany Weiss, an instructional designer for Lindenwood Online, said that the reception from students and faculty has been “very positive.”

“It [may seem like] something small, but for someone it can be really huge to be addressed by the correct pronouns,” Weiss said. “This gives the opportunity for a student to identify themselves. We want every student to feel like they belong and feel that they are accepted here, no matter what.”

Lindenwood students can access this new setting under Account > Settings > Edit Settings > Pronouns > Select Pronouns > Update Settings.

Heather Brown-Hudson, the program chair of the gender studies department at Lindenwood, said that steps like the recent Canvas update are bridging the gap between non-binary and cisgender individuals.

“We’re dealing with a really vulnerable population that doesn’t always feel comfortable or welcome in many spaces on campus,” Brown-Hudson said. “So any way to communicate to this population that this element of their identity is very important is a great thing to do.”

The American Psychological Association defines non-binary as “a person who identifies outside of gender binaries,” while defining cisgender as “people whose gender identity and assigned sex are congruent by predominant cultural standards.”

For Brown-Hudson, pronouns are important because it’s a “way of simply seeing people.”

“I think this is a very welcome change and I would encourage everybody to add their pronouns, regardless whether they are cis[gender] or not,” Brown-Hudson said. “My hope is that going forward, Lindenwood University can continue to remove barriers for students to excel.”

Canvas, owned by Instructure, is used to manage courses, facilitate communication between classmates and instructors, and access course content. The program is available to “millions of students and teachers across 70 different countries”, according to its website.

For more information about this Canvas update, contact Jennifer Spellazza at [email protected].