Inclusive Spanish / Gender-Neutral Spanish

This year one of the my professional development goals was to incorporate the use of gender-neutral pronouns in the Spanish program at my school. The first thing I did was research and learn about the situation of using gender-neutral or Inclusive Spanish.

First off there is the growing concern that this gender-neutral change did not originate in a Spanish speaking country but in the US. and how this can be seen as linguistic imperialism or even cultural appropriation on those using it.

So how exactly did the use of gender-neutral language originate? It probably originated with the use of the word “Latinx“. This word originated in the Spanish LGBTQ community of the US as a way to expand the gender inclusive forms to the word Latino. There is much debate as to where exactly, some claim it was in started in online chat rooms in the 1990s and that its first appearance in academic literature was in the Fall 2004 volume of the journal Feministas Unidas. (3) Others like Google Trends says it originated in 2004 when it was first seen online. Many people became more aware of the term in the month following the Orlando nightclub shooting of June 2016, Google Trends shows that searches for this term rose greatly in this period. (3)

In July 2022, Argentina and Spain released public statements banning the use of Latinx, or any gender-neutral variant. Both governments reasoned that these new terms are violations of the rules of the Spanish language. (2)

Learning about all this and thinking of my particular situation (an elementary Spanish teacher working in an Independent School in the USA) there were two points I made clear to my students and their parents. One is that gender-neutral language is not approved by the REA (The Royal Spanish Academy) and it is rarely used by Spanish speakers in Spanish speaking countries. And Two that because we are in an Independent School in the US. we can be more inclusive using gender-neutral Spanish language in our learning context and make those of our LGBTQ community feel represented by it.

Another decision I took is to use ‘e’ because I find it more neutral and easier to read (and use) than the use of letter x or the symbol @. In fact ‘e’ has always been neutral in adjectives and nouns like grande and estudiante. Replacing a and o with these symbols ‘x’ ‘@’ makes Spanish really hard to speak! Imagine that in English one decided to change a and o for an x! How would you say these words?! For example “The potatx is hxt.” HERE is a great article making a case for the use of letter ‘e’ to represent neutral.

In the end adding gender neutral pronouns was a lot easier than I thought but it takes a bit of time to get used to it, since it is not something we can easily practice outside of the classroom context.

So how did I start to use Gender-Neutral Language in my classroom?

I started by researching online. What were other people doing? Very rapidly I came upon a video that made it so simple for me to understand the use of Inclusive Spanish. I decided that watching this video would be the first thing I’d have my students do.

Another question I had was… In what grade should I start using Inclusive Language in? I decided 4th grade was a good start in my situation as my students had some basic understanding of the ‘official’ grammar and the use of pronouns with verbs. I also would let the younger students know of the non-gender pronoun ‘elle‘ if we were using he and she.

As I said before I decided to use ‘elle, nosotres, vosotres and elles‘ as the non-gender pronouns (instead of using an ‘x’ or ‘@’. ‘the letter ‘e’ is the most used by other Spanish teachers using Inclusive Spanish and the one that makes the most sense to me as ‘e ‘has always been neutral in adjectives and nouns like grande and estudiante.

To add these forms to material that does not include gender-neutral pronouns (most of it) I decided on a symbol that was easy to draw on the worksheets: a star. So when I want my students to use gender-neutral pronouns I placed a star next to he or she for the singular form elle , a star next to we for nosotres, a star next to you plural for vosotres and a star next to they so students use elles.

The following is a Pronouns Spanish Graphic with all the pronouns including gender-neutral.

This is a Inclusive Spanish Graphic to practice the conjugation of -ar ending verbs:

HERE is a document that has links about inclusive language.

I hope my experience is useful to you in getting started using Inclusive Spanish. Learning all of this is still a work in progress. I will continue to post material as I learn and create.

It will also be interesting to see if making languages more inclusive in the USA will affect the way Spanish (and other languages) are spoken in their countries of origin.


1.Good Housekeeping article. “What does Latinx mean”

2. The Conversation. com Stop using Latix if you want to be really inclusive.

3. Wikipedia

4. The New York Times In Argentina, One of the World’s First Bans on Gender-Neutral Language