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University of Minnesota backs off proposal to punish people for not using preferred gender pronouns

New proposal removes language concerning sanctions

The University of Minnesota recently unveiled the latest draft of a proposed administrative policy on gender identity that removed controversial language that had proposed punishing students and faculty for not using preferred gender pronouns. Potential sanctions had included firing or expulsion in previous drafts.

The policy allows for university members to use “a specified name that differs from the name listed on their legal documents, use a gender identity that differs from their sex and/or sex assigned at birth, and/or specify the pronouns and other gendered personal references used to refer to them.”

Previous drafts included language for disciplinary sanctions for failing to use someone’s preferred gender pronouns. The sanctions involved “disciplinary action up to and including termination from employment and academic sanctions up to and including academic expulsion.”

Tina Marisam, director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action at the university, said that the sanctions made for a “scarier policy,” according to the Minnesota Daily campus newspaper.

“We got a lot of feedback that the purpose of this policy should be to educate and to inspire our community to engage in respectful behavior,” she told a senate committee at the university.

Mirisam added that the policy was redundant due to other regulations from the Minnesota Board of Regents that prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or presentation.

Previous versions of the policy had been described as one of the most ambitious policies in the nation.

MORE: University proposal on shaky legal ground, scholars say

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