Referencing someone by the wrong pronoun could get you fired or expelled at the University of Minnesota if a proposed policy is adopted.
The university is considering a policy that would require faculty members and students to use the preferred pronoun of transgender men and women, including “he,” “she,” “ze” or “they,” The Star Tribune reported. The policy also would allow individuals to use the housing, restroom or locker room that corresponds to their identity.
“Violations of the provisions of this Policy could constitute discrimination or harassment based on gender identity or gender expression,” the proposal reads. “Discrimination or harassment based on gender identity or gender expression may result in appropriate responsive action, including but not limited to disciplinary action up to and including termination from employment and academic sanctions up to and including academic expulsion.”
Already, the proposal is sparking controversy.
“To me, it’s a bridge too far to cross for a person to tell me I have to say something … and if I don’t, I can be punished,” sophomore Michael Geiger, a campus leader for Students for a Conservative Voice, told the newspaper.
Computer science professor Joseph Konstan said the proposal “set off the free speech alarms immediately.”
“I don’t think it’s a controversial idea that people should be addressed as they prefer to be addressed,” he said. “Where it becomes controversial is where you move from being about good behavior … into a disciplinary matter.”
Students are wondering how it would impact roommate assignments, he said.
“Being welcoming and respectful to everyone is a wonderful goal,” Konstan told The Star Tribune. “[But] do we allow a student to say we won’t room with somebody who was born with a different gender?”
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com
Publication Date: July 18, 2018
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