A public university is upping the liberal atmosphere on campus, bringing a new definition of "tolerance" to include ze and zer, and threatening to punish anybody who fails to get it right.
The proposed "Pronoun Rule" at the University of Minnesota is designed to protect transgender students from being "misgendered" by their professors and classmates.
The use of "personal prounouns" such as "He" or "Ze," or "Her" or "Zir," or even the plural "They," is not to be confused with "gender identity" words such as "Genderqueer," "Two Spirit," "Nonbinary," or the supposedly antiquated "Man" or "Woman."
The Minneapolis Star Tribunereports that students are invited to choose their personal pronoun and gender identity on the school's website, and fellow faculty and students will be expected to follow those personal choices or face punishment.
What that punishment looks like has yet to be decided, however.
The proposed rule is being overseen by the university's Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Office, which expects to announce an official policy in the fall, the newspaper reported.
A spokesperson for the Office declined to speculate on what punishment would look like except to insist that it would "depend on the circumstances."
The Tribune story said a proposed draft of the pronoun policy was passed around the campus earlier this year and "set off free speech alarms" after it was read, according to a computer science professor quoted in the story.
Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council says the proposed rules put people in the uncomfortable dilemma of compromising their ethics or facing punishment.
"From the perspective of those who believe that your maleness or femaleness is determined by your biological sex at birth," he says, "to be required to use a different pronoun from those that reflect that biological sex at birth is to be required to lie."
A transgender professor quoted in the Tribune story, who transitioned to a woman in 2016, said it's "really affirming" to be called by a preferred pronoun and "really saddening" when you are not.
A professor of media ethics and law, also quoted in the Tribune story, asked the obvious question: what if you "slip up" and use the wrong word.
"Is that harassment or discrimination?" the professor asked. "Does everybody get one free pass and after that, it's harassment?"
The transgender professor, however, insisted that no one would be punished for accidentally messing up - at least the first time.
"Heavens no," the biological male, now named "Melissa," insisted.
Sprigg tells OneNewsNow that it is also troubling that the coming policy will also stipulate transgender students could use bathroom and locker room facilities with which they identify.
"I think it even goes beyond that," he warns, "because they may actually be assigned a roommate of the opposite without being informed that that's the case, without being informed in advance, and without being given any choice about it."
A new campus housing policy for a self-indentified male or female, in fact, is part of the proposed policy, the Tribune story stated.
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