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University of Minnesota Senate agrees to back off plan to punish those who misgender others

Policy received vocal support

The University of Minnesota is poised to codify sweeping protection rights for transgender individuals — but the campus community appears OK with scrapping plans to allow for disciplinary action against anyone who misgenders another.

University of Minnesota leaders earlier this year backed off a controversial proposal to punish people for not using preferred gender pronouns, and this month the University Senate voiced agreement with that plan ahead of a vote on the matter.

The University Senate — which represents both students and faculty — discussed the proposed policy on gender pronoun usage for the first time and indicated it is in supportive of the changes, the Minnesota Daily reported. The most recent draft of the policy “primarily received vocal support.” A vote will occur in May, where a two-thirds majority is required for adoption.

The policy stipulates that university members are “expected to use the names, gender identities, and pronouns specified to them by other University members, except as legally required,” according to the draft of the policy.

The policy would also allow access to “access gender-specific facilities that correspond with [student] gender identities” and allows students to “participate in University activities and programs consistent with their gender identities…” These activities and programs include “housing, restrooms, locker rooms, recreation services and activities, and camp programs.”

The Minnesota Daily explains the university’s motivation:

Tina Marisam, director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, said in the meeting the policy is needed to clearly express the University of Minnesota’s commitment to providing a safe and welcoming environment to all students. She said the proposal provides guidance to the University community about gender identities and expression.

Previous versions of the policy included potential disciplinary action for anyone who misgendered another person by failing to use that person’s preferred pronoun. Using the incorrect pronoun could have resulted “disciplinary action up to and including termination from employment and academic sanctions up to and including academic expulsion.”

However, this language was removed from later versions for being too harsh. Marisam said that the sanctions created a “scarier policy.”

Read the full Minnesota Daily report.

MORE: University of Minnesota backs off punitive pronoun policy

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