In an effort to increase campus inclusivity, administrators at Champlain College in Vermont distributed gender pronoun pins to incoming freshman to establish the wearer’s preferred gender pronouns.
Danielle Berube, Champlain’s Director of Residential Life, claimed that the college has a portion of students whose genders don’t adhere to the traditional male-female gender binary. “We have a number of students who identify as transgender or on the non-binary spectrum, and about a week before orientation while we were pulling together materials, the idea just kind of came out of the air,” Berube said. “It just seemed like a no-brainer — a very easy way to make the first day of college for a number of our students maybe a little bit easier.”
Champlain students were also given the option of claiming that their gender is fluid, which denotes that an individual’s gender is malleable and changing. Although there is little science on this topic, some trans-advocates argue that genderfluidity is a form of gender expression rather than a static gender identity.
Berube claimed that the practice of identifying student’s preferred pronouns is productive because students should be forced to “confront their values” in an educational environment. “It would certainly be a generalization to say everyone is on board,” Berube said. “Certainly, there’s resistance or folks who maybe it just doesn’t jive with their beliefs or their own thinking, but we’re in an educational atmosphere, so this is the place where people are supposed to confront their values and beliefs and understand them or push on them. This is the place where we should be doing this.”
Despite this call for an environment of true intellectualism, it’s often the advocates of gender politics on American campuses that are the least likely to engage with ideas that conflict with their own, setting up safe spaces to shield themselves from ideas they find threatening.
Tom Ciccotta is a libertarian who writes about Free Speech and Intellectual Diversity for Breitbart. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org