The University of Minnesota (UMN) is considering a new policy that could potentially allow for staff to be fired and students to be expelled for failing to refer to someone by their preferred gender pronoun.
The policy is still being finalized, with an aim to combat “misgendering” in order to create a more “healthy” campus environment.
Conservatives are claiming the policy would put a value on feelings over free speech, which is against the Constitution.
Samantha Harris, the vice president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) policy research, told the National Review that the policy “would certainly be unconstitutional for a public university to require students and faculty to use gender-neutral pronouns or face punishment.”
UMN states that students can identify as “They/them/theirs,” “Ze/Zir/Zirs,” “Agender,” “Gender nonconforming,” “Genderqueer,” “Nonbinary,” “Two spirit,” or whatever they choose.
These “misgendering” consequences aren’t the only controversial aspect of the policy.
If finalized, it would allow for individuals to use their preferred gender locker room and even applies to housing guidelines. That’s right — a biological male could room with a female so long as he identifies as one.
“The intent is to be able to create more access and an inclusive environment for all of our community members regardless of their gender identity,” said Gabrielle Mead, assistant director of the UMN Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action office.
UMN administrators say they are still working on specifc details within the policy.