North Dakota Catholic Conference warns parents about UND's proposed pronoun policy

In a letter to parents, the North Dakota Catholic Conference said that the proposed policy is “the rejection of any assumption of a binary, or biological based-gender” and violates free speech.

The proposed policy would consider intentional misgendering of an individual to be a violation of the discrimination and harassment policy.

The North Dakota Catholic Conference shared a letter warning parents of a Catholic high school about a policy being considered at the University of North Dakota, saying that the proposal is “hostile to not only the Catholic faith but also the truth about the human person.”

The policy in question requires that faculty and departments use “the names, gender identities, and pronouns specified to them by others, except as legally or administratively required,” and stipulates that if students “intentionally misgender an individual,” they will be considered in violation of UND’s Discrimination and Harassment policies.

Additionally, all UND, “signage, publications, policies, procedures, marketing materials, and similar documents” must use “gender-inclusive language” and imagery that adhere “to campus-wide branding standards relating to diversity and inclusion.”

The policy also outlines that “Students are provided access to housing consistent with their gender identity and expression, as requested, and are not required to stay in single-occupancy accommodations.”

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The North Dakota Catholic Center letter obtained by Campus Reform outlines the impact of this policy by stating that “A freshman female …could be assigned, without any prior knowledge or approval, a roommate who is a biological male but ‘expresses’ as a female.”

The proposed policy additionally includes that the university will follow NCAA guidelines for student-athletes which allows for males who “transition” to females are allowed to play on women’s teams following a year of testosterone suppression treatment.

Lastly, the policy mandates that all student organizations, fraternities, and sororities, “must adhere to the University’s policies, including nondiscrimination policies.”

The letter to parents stated that the proposed policy, “requires student organizations to use preferred pronouns, accept expressed genders, and reject binary understandings of gender even if doing so conflicted with their sincerely held religious beliefs.

The North Dakota Catholic Conference outlined on its website that the proposed campus-wide policy “infringes upon the free speech rights of faculty, staff, students, and visitors; infringes upon the religious rights of students and student organizations; it creates troubling student housing situations; and it violates not only constitutional rights but also state law and systemwide university policies.”

Christopher Dodson, the executive director of the North Dakota Catholic Conference, told Campus Reform that he met with Dr. Andrew Armacost, President of the University of North Dakota, to discuss the policy earlier this week.

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The letter sent by the North Dakota Catholic Conference also urged parents to contact UND administrators to, “ask them to reject this flawed proposal.”

In response to the pressure brought by the North Dakota Catholic Conference and parents, President Armacost will be holding a press conference on the policy on January 14th.

Brenna Hildreth, a student at the University of North Dakota, told Campus Reform that while she believes in being kind to others, she finds the policy “extreme.”

 “I have no issue with trying to make people feel comfortable, but when it gets to the point of threatening to kick people out of the school and students getting expelled for it, which I thought I heard might happen if it were to be passed, I think that’s a little extreme because there’s the basic respect of letting someone know while also understanding they may not automatically know what people identify as,” said Hildreth.

The University of North Dakota is the sole campus in the state considering such a policy.

Campus Reform reached out to the University of North Dakota. This article will be updated accordingly.