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Students Mandated To Use Gender Neutral Language In University Of Northern Colorado Classes

October 28, 2016

At least five classes at the University of Northern Colorado are requiring students to use gender-neutral language.

Sociology professor Kelly Davis created the gender-neutral language requirement in at least four syllabuses in the spring, Heat Street reported.

Sociology professor Mark Shuey also included the inclusive language requirement on the syllabus for his Sociology of Minorities class during the spring. He added that he hasn’t mandated that students use gender neutral language and wouldn’t punish students for not abiding by the requirement. Out of concern for students rights to free speech, he says that he may remove the requirement from his syllabus next semester.

Shuey said that he wants his students to make arguments based on facts and not opinions.

“What I’m really getting at is, have your own opinion, but be kind to each other,” Shuey told Heat Street.

“If you’re dealing from opinion, I’m going to call you out on it. … I have several students whose total reality is based on Fox News. That’s opinion-based, not fact-based. … If you start saying what Fox News says, I’m going to call you out,” he said, adding that he wants his students to focus on world views that aren’t white vs black or conservative or liberal.

When asked a hypothetical question on what would happen if a student wasn’t comfortable using gender-neutral language, Shuey said, “When people are like that, where they can’t see white privilege, or they’re wrapped up in their religion, I focus on not deterring them from that. I try to make them look at the bigger picture. … Some students are going to be more resistant, but I’m not going to give them an ‘F’ because they said ‘he’ or ‘she.'”

Shuey’s and Davis’syllabuses also mention that it is inappropriate to make personal faith statements.

Shuey said that no student has ever rejected to using gender-neutral language because of religious beliefs on transgender issues.

“But if someone pushed it, I’d say, first off, I’d ask, ‘Why the resistance? Why the anger?’” Shuey said. “And most of the time, those people are religious, and most of the time [I’d say], ‘If you really believe in Jesus, you’re supposed to serve people, not judge them. Are you really following what Jesus wants you to do?’”

Earlier this year, the Bias Response Team at the University of Northern Colorado hung roughly 680 posters around campus telling students not to use offensive language. Additionally, one professor was told by the Bias Response Team to change his lesson plan to avoid potentially controversial topics that people could find offensive, including transgender topics.

This fall, adjunct professor Mike Jensen had his students read “The Coddling of the American Mind” which explains how disastrous it is for students to protect themselves from words and ideas that they find offensive. One student complained to the Bias Response Team saying that it was offensive. UNC’s ethics officer for Title IX, affirmative action and equal opportunity then had a discussion with Jensen saying that he could face claims of discrimination under Title IX and Title VII, as well as a probe by the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. After news reports came out revealing this kind of censorship, the college shut down their Bias Response Team.