Ramsey threatens action after UT post on “gender neutral pronouns”

TRI-CITIES, TN (WJHL)- It’s something Tennessee’s Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey calls “political correctness run amok.”

A post on University of Tennessee’s website encourages people to ask each other what pronouns they would like to be called, and if they don’t identify with “he” or “she” to use pronouns like “ze” and “zirs.”

The post from UT’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion said in part: “In the first weeks of classes, instead of calling roll, ask everyone to provide their name and pronouns. This ensures you are not singling out transgender or non-binary students.”

It also gives a list of “gender neutral pronouns” like ze, hir, hirs, and xe, xem, xyr.

But Ramsey is threatening to put a stop to this in the next legislative session.

“How far do you go with this political correctness stuff? This is absolutely amazing,” Ramsey said.

He said he has talked with UT multiple times about this post.

“Am I upset? Absolutely. This is just silliness that state tax payer dollars are paying somebody to decide that people shouldn’t be called he or she any longer,” Ramsey said.

The school insists this post isn’t an official policy, only a suggestion.

“But you know what? Fifteen minutes ago it was still on their website,” Ramsey said.

The post says “We should not assume someone’s gender by their appearance, nor by what is listed on a roster or in student information systems.”

It says using gender neutral pronouns “alleviates a heavy burden for people expressing different genders or identities.”

“It’s my understanding that this person in this diversity affairs department said we didn’t want to offend anybody, well I’ll be right up front, if I’m not called ‘he’ I’m offended,” Ramsey said.

Ramsey said if the school doesn’t take the post off its website, he is taking this to Nashville, possibly to try and do away with the department that created the post.

“And it won’t just be me let me assure you there are lots of people upset about this,” Ramsey said. “Everybody needs to be tolerant, everybody needs to be kind to everyone else, but to change the rules of society so speak so that you won’t offend two percent of the people is absolutely ridiculous,” Ramsey said.

And in Johnson City, we wanted to find out if East Tennessee State University plans to encourage “gender neutral pronouns.”

“That’s not something we’ve talked about,” Joe Sherlin, Vice President of Student Affairs at ETSU said.

The school said it is taking steps to affirm and include.

“In the last couple of years we have added over 30 gender neutral restrooms across the campus,” Sherlin said. “We have a gender neutral changing area in our center for physical activity.”

He said the school is reviewing its policies,”to make sure we have an environment that’s supportive and accommodating for our transgender population.”

ETSU leaders said they are planning a residential housing floor for students interested in issues related to gender and gender identity for the coming school year.

Students will be able to ask for a gender neutral housing assignment within that floor.

Copyright 2015 WJHL. All Rights Reserved.

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