UMN policy would punish incorrect use of gender pronouns

The University of Minnesota is considering a new policy that would mandate the use of “preferred pronouns” under threat of expulsion or firing.

According to the policy—currently titled “Equity and Access: Gender Identity, Gender Expression, Names and Pronouns”—members of the academic institution “are expected to use the names, gender identities, and pronouns specified to them by University members.”

[RELATED: College lists ‘ne,’ ‘ve,’ ‘ey’ as gender neutral pronouns]

The policy, which reportedly began circulating earlier this year, would also allow students to use school facilities based on their preferred gender identity and not their sex assigned at birth. 

“Individuals may access gender-specific facilities that correspond with their gender identities and may participate in University activities and programs consistent with their gender identities including, but not limited to, housing, restrooms, locker rooms, recreation services and activities, and camp programs,” the proposal reads. 

“Individuals will not be required to use gender-specific facilities that are inconsistent with their gender identities or to use gender inclusive options because their sex assigned at birth or sex listed on legal documents differs from their gender identity or gender expression,” the draft continues. 

[RELATED: Princeton students can choose any—or every—gender identity]

The university explains that the document is needed to further support “transgender and gender nonconforming” individuals on campus and to “maintain an environment for University members that is free from discrimination, harassment, and retaliation based on gender identity and gender expression.”

To accomplish these goals, the policy includes a lengthy list of punishments designed to discourage “discrimination” and “harassment” based on gender identity. 

“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,” the draft reads.

[RELATED: UGA offers how-to guide on using gender-neutral pronouns]

In an interview with the Star Tribune, Gabrielle Mead, assistant director of the school’s Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action office, underscored that the policy has not yet been finalized, stressing that “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.” 

“I don’t think I’m prepared to talk about the specifics of what would be permitted and not at this stage,” she added. 

The University of Minnesota did not immediately respond to Campus Reform’s request for comment. 

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