Point Park University in Pittsburgh is threatening to take disciplinary action against students who don’t use their classmates’ preferred pronouns.
According to an email obtained by Campus Reform, the school’s Office of Equity and Inclusion notified students that “any individual who has been informed of another person’s gender identity, pronouns, or chosen name is expected to respect that individual” and that “misgendering, continued misuse of an individual’s pronouns, or using an individual’s deadname after being informed of a chosen name could result in a violation of the Policy on Discrimination and Harassment for gender-based discrimination.”
“While the University recognizes the aspect of intent versus impact, we must recognize that regardless of the intent, if an individual is impacted in a harmful way, action could be taken if a complaint is filed,” it added.
The email also included a link to the university’s “Pronouns and Inclusive Language Guide,” which warns students that “using language that assumes another person’s gender or pronouns or generalizing an entire group can be harmful and cause trans and gender non-conforming folks to feel isolated.”
Written by a former student, the manual gives students a list of “gender inclusive language” to use when talking to groups or strangers, such as replacing “boyfriend/girlfriend” with “partner,” and “men/women” with “all people/all genders,” among others.
When asked for comment on the situation, Point Park University’s Student Government President Dennis McDermott told Campus Reform that he did not know the “exact details of the policy.”
“I would imagine any violation (in this case misgendering, misuse of pronouns, or incorrectly using someone’s deadname when you are aware of their preferred name and pronouns) would result in a similar action to any act of discrimination against students on campus,” he said. “I, of course, respect the beliefs of others and their right to express those beliefs, but those beliefs, no matter what they are, cannot impede or harm the rights of others, in this case the right of a student to be respected in their use of their preferred name and pronouns.”
“This is a fundamental belief not only I and Point Park University share (imagine that), but also the United States Constitution asserts,” he added.