The University of Tennessee, bucking political correctness, has ruled that the school’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion website will have to remove gender-neutral pronouns.
On Friday, rebuffing The Office for Diversity and Inclusion’s desire for students and faculty to use terms such as “ze,” “xe,”and “xem,” UT President Joe DiPietro sent a message to university trustees reassuring them that the gender-neutral pronouns will be expunged. That message was also transmitted to some Republican legislative leaders who had said the university was bowing to political correctness if it allowed the gender-neutral pronouns to stay. DiPietro wrote:
. . . despite the aggressive efforts by UT Knoxville to communicate the fact that the campus does not require the use of gender-neutral pronouns, I am deeply concerned about the attention this matter continues to receive and the harm it has had on the reputation of the University of Tennessee … Chancellor Cheek and I have agreed that references to the use of gender-neutral pronouns will be removed from the Office for Diversity and Inclusion website. Chancellor Cheek will instruct the Vice Chancellors not to publish any campus-wide practice or policy without his approval after review with the Cabinet.
The Office for Diversity and Inclusion had argued that using gender-neutral pronouns was designed to make the transgender population and “people who do not identify within the gender binary” more comfortable.” In its quarterly newsletter article, the Knoxville campus’ Pride Center director, Donna Braguet, wrote, “Transgender people and people who do not identify within the gender binary may use a different name than their legal name and pronouns of their gender identity, rather than the pronouns of the sex they were assigned at birth.” She added that teachers should ask each student what kind of pronoun they would choose when the teacher addressed them.
Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, blasted the idea, stating, “I find it difficult to believe that such a ridiculous suggestion as gender-neutral pronouns would be published on a university website without leadership’s approval. To me it suggests a lack of institutional control, and I believe the Senate Education and Government Operations committees should investigate and review.”