UT removing references to gender-neutral pronouns from site

By The Associated Press | Posted - Sep. 5, 2015 at 9:51 a.m.



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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The University of Tennessee says references to the use of gender-neutral pronouns such as "ze" are being removed from a school website.

UT President Joe DiPietro sent a message to university trustees on Friday saying references to gender-neutral pronouns will be removed from the school's Office for Diversity and Inclusion website, multiple media outlets reported. DiPietro said he and Chancellor Jimmy Cheek made the change together.

"The social issues and practices raised by the Office for Diversity and Inclusion are appropriate ones for discussion on a university campus. However, it was not appropriate to do so in a manner that suggests it is the expectation that all on campus embrace these practices," DiPietro wrote.

The Office for Diversity and Inclusion had asked students and faculty to use the pronouns in order to create a more inclusive campus. Officials had said the suggestion was aimed to be welcoming of the transgender population and "people who do not identify within the gender binary."

Donna Braquet, the university's Pride Center Director, had requested that teachers, rather than calling roll, would instead ask each student to provide the name and pronoun he or she — or ze — wishes to be referred by. She said it relieves a burden for people expressing different genders or identities.

Some of the other pronouns are hir, hirs, xe, xem or xyr.

DiPietro met with members of the Knoxville legislative delegation on Friday. Lawmakers say they are glad the university responded but are still taking a wait-and-see approach.

The topic is on the agenda for a state Senate Higher Education Subcommittee meeting in October. State Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, said he still expects the subject to be discussed then.

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