The University of Minnesota is considering a new policy that would punish faculty and students who use the wrong pronouns.
They call it the “Pronoun Rule.” The policy is designed to protect transgender people from being mis-gendered.
Mis-gendered is the culturally-correct term used when you call someone by a name or a personal pronoun they no longer use.
Under the proposed policy professors, staff and students who use the wrong pronouns (he, she, ze) would face penalities up to firing or expulsion.
Let’s say a professor calls on Darlene during class. But Darlene is now Larry. Well – that professor would face disciplinary action up to firing.
Let’s say a student refers to a classmate as he when in fact he might be she or identifies as ze or something else on the gender spectrum. That student could face expulsion.
The university said their pronoun rule is the most ambitious of its kind in the country – covering everything from mis-gendering to bathrooms to locker rooms.
“The intent is to be able to create more access and an inclusive environment for all of our community members regardless of their gender identity,” university spokesperson Gabrielle Mead told the Star-Tribune.
The end result, the university said, is to be welcoming and respectful to everybody.
“I have friends who really want me to refer to them as ‘they’ because they don’t strongly feel male or female,” Professor Melissa Harl Sellew told the newspaper. “They tell you it’s really affirming when you’re called by the correct pronouns, and it’s really saddening when you’re not.”
But there are some on campus who fear the proposed policy could lead to an assault on the First Amendment.
“Where it becomes controversial is where you move from being about good behavior…into a disciplinary matter,” Professor Joseph Konstan said.
And there’s also the matter of letting male students who identify as female students use locker rooms and bathrooms meant for biological females.
“Being welcoming and respectful to everyone is a wonderful goal,” the professor told the newspaper. “But do we allow a student to say we won’t room with somebody who was born with a different gender?”
And what about a gender fluid person? How are professors and students supposed to keep up with the fluidity of one’s gender? A student could be a guy in the morning but by afternoon, he, she, ze, they could be somewhere else on the gender spectrum.
And for that matter — is there a penalty for leaving the toilet seat up in a gender neutral bathroom?