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University pulls ‘inclusive gender practices’ policy proposal

University of Toledo no longer lists a ‘Chosen First Name’ policy proposal it made available on the website in March, but students can request a ‘preferred first name’ change

An “inclusive gender practices” policy proposed by the University of Toledo is no longer available on its website following criticism.

The policy proposal, titled “Inclusive Gender Practices,” was posted on the university’s Office of Multicultural Office of Student Success website, which said it would make it available for students to comment on through March 21.

“An individual’s Chosen First Name must be used by all UToledo students, staff, and faculty in all communications,” the proposed policy draft stated, according to an article published March 19 by Fox News.

“The University of Toledo recognizes the importance of students, faculty, and staff being able to use names other than their legal names to identify themselves for a variety of reasons.”

A spokesman for the University of Toledo told Fox in a statement:

“The Inclusive Gender Practices policy has been proposed to respect and affirm the identity of all University of Toledo community members in accordance with our commitment to fostering an environment of inclusivity. It is aligned with the University’s LGBTQA+ Strategic Plan. At this time the proposed policy is posted for comment. We will review the comments received and the draft policy could change based on the input received.”

An article published March 21 by WTOL11, a Toledo news website and television station, stated that the “Inclusive Gender Practices policy would essentially make all members of the university call others by their preferred first name.”

The proposed policy followed the University of Toledo’s earlier implementation of a freedom of expression policy that added protections to the freedom of speech of students and staff.

The proposed policy draft is no longer available on the University of Toledo’s live website following criticism by Foundation for Individual Rights for Education.

FIRE sent a letter to the University of Toledo on February 4 calling for the policy proposal to be rejected:

“It has long been settled law that the First Amendment is binding on public universities like UToledo. Accordingly, the decisions and actions of a public university – including the maintenance of policies implicating student and faculty expression – must be consistent with the First Amendment. Unfortunately, the Inclusive Gender Practices policy, as currently written, does not meet this requirement.”

An active student website currently allows members of the community to specify “preferred first names” in shared identifying systems, such as the university email display name system and Blackboard, as well as on a student’s diploma.

“Folks with a UTAD [University of Toledo Authentication Domain] are able to change their first name in many places here at UToledo regardless of a legal name change,” the web page of the Office of Multicultural Student Success states.

It is unclear whether the university mandates the usage of “preferred first name” in communications.

Students’ full legal names will still appear on official transcripts, enrollment verification, degree audit, and “anywhere legal name is required,” according to the website.

Though “preferred” is the language the university is using in its name update forms, the university’s Multicultural Student Success office implied that it may not be a sufficiently inclusive term.

The office website stated, “LGBTQA+ Initiatives in the Office of Multicultural Student Success recognizes that ‘preferred’ suggests the name they are claiming doesn’t belong to them. We are using this terminology as it is what is currently in place and are working on making the language more inclusive.”

The College Fix reached out to the University of Toledo Office of Diversity and Inclusion in an email April 16 asking what feedback the University received and if professors will be punished for not using a student’s “preferred first name.” The office has not responded.

The Fix also emailed the American Association of University Professors on April 1, and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education on April 20, asking whether the university’s newest proposed policy violates the First Amendment. The College Fix has yet to receive answers.

MORE: University of Toledo adopts strong new free-expression policy

SOURCE: University of Toledo/Facebook

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Erin Van Natta is a student at Liberty University where she is studying journalism. She is a columnist for the Lone Conservative.