WVU equity office calls improper pronoun use a Title IX violation

Emily Larsen
Program Manager

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  • West Virginia University’s website says calling someone by the wrong gender pronoun could be a Title IX violation, but a university spokesperson asserts that the page does not represent WVU policy.
  • The WVU Equity Assurance Office also maintains a guide on correct gender-neutral pronoun usage, which lists 7 unique "nonbinary" pronouns.
  • West Virginia University’s website says calling someone by the wrong gender pronoun could be a Title IX violation, but a university spokesperson asserts that the page does not represent WVU policy.

    “You have the right to be called by the name and pronouns consistent with your gender identity,” WVU’s Equity Assurance Office tells students. “You have the right to be treated according to the gender you identify with.”

    “You have the right to be called by the name and pronouns consistent with your gender identity,” WVU says.   

    WVU Title IX Coordinator James Goins, Jr., however, maintains that this is a “misrepresentation of WVU and Title IX policy,” telling Campus Reform that the guidelines are on the website for informational purposes only, and were pulled from the National Center for Transgender Equality.

    Goins confirmed that the Title IX office investigates instances of discrimination and harassment, but declared that WVU would “absolutely not” launch a Title IX investigation over a complaint about a student or faculty member using an improper pronoun.

    Nonetheless, WVU’s Equity Assurance Office office also provides a guide on proper pronoun usage to help students navigate the labyrinthine landscape of gender-neutral pronouns.

    [RELATED: UWM offers gender-neutral pronoun guide]

    “Correct pronoun use is an easy step toward showing respect for people of every gender,” the guide says. “Remember that people may change their pronouns without changing their name, appearance, or gender identity.”

    The guide borrows a chart from the UW-Milwaukee LGBT Resources Center, which outlines a variety of “traditional” pronouns alongside “nonbinary” pronouns such as “(f)ae,” “e/ey,” he, “per,” she, they, “ve,” “xe,” and “ze/zie.” It warns the list is not exhaustive.

    Title IX, signed into law in 1972, intends to ensure colleges, universities, and other education programs which receive federal funding prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex. It most famously paved the way for increased women’s collegiate athletics, but has faced numerous compliance expansions regarding bullying and sexual assault.

    [RELATED: Title IX helps girls, but leaves boys behind, women’s advocate contends]

    In May, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education jointly issued a “Dear Colleague” letter expanding Title IX definitions to encompass transgender students, which the WVU Equity Assurance Office cites as the basis for its guidance on pronoun usage.

    “Under Title IX, a school must treat students consistent with their gender identity even if their education records or identification documents indicate a different sex,” the Dear Colleague letter says. “The Departments have resolved Title IX investigations with agreements committing that school staff and contractors will use pronouns and names consistent with a transgender student’s gender identity.”

    WVU’s Title IX office also cites Gender Spectrum, which states that “the terms ‘gender’ and ‘sex’ are used interchangeably, and thus incorrectly.” However, WVU’s Title IX complaint form lists “Sex (Gender),” “Sexual Orientation,” and “Gender Identity” as reasons for discrimination.

    (H/t: The Daily Caller)

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @emilyelarsen



    Emily Larsen

    Emily Larsen

    Program Manager

    Emily Larsen is Campus Reform's Program Manager. She manages, recruits, and trains Campus Correspondents. Previously, she worked for the Leadership Institute as a Regional Field Coordinator.

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