Albuquerque, NM (KKOB) — Albuquerque Public Schools students can now use their preferred first name in the district’s internal student identification software system. A preferred name can be different from the student’s legal name and may reflect gender identity, a nickname, or distinguish a student from someone with a similar name.
There is a phenomenon known as misnaming, in which someone is put in the awkward position of being called a name the person doesn’t embrace. There is growing evidence that over time the experience of being called by an unwanted name contributes to adverse mental health outcomes and isolation.
For years, with few exceptions, it was incumbent upon students and/or parents to inform teachers, students, and support staff every year if they preferred to use a different first name than the student’s legal name on file. Because the option to select a preferred name did not exist until now, many students had no choice but to be known in the school setting by their legal name. The dilemma was exacerbated by the shift to increased digital learning, where students’ names are regularly displayed next to their image and repeated while participating in online classroom settings.
“There’s nothing more personal than our name,” said Interim Superintendent Scott Elder. “Our students need to feel respected, accepted, and welcome in our classrooms, and this is one way we can show them we mean what we say.”
The display of students’ preferred names electronically will eliminate misnaming students. This change significantly advances Albuquerque Public Schools’ efforts to support all students’ mental health and well-being.
A student’s legal name will continue to be used on official documents and reports where required.
Parents of students new to APS may enter their child’s preferred first name when registering for the 2021-2022 school year. Students who have been previously enrolled in APS must contact their school’s front office to change their preferred first name.