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Free Speech Experts Raise Flags on Proposed Pronoun Policy at U. Minnesota

Free Speech Experts Raise Flags on Proposed Pronoun Policy at U. Minnesota

“raises serious First Amendment concerns”

The policy under consideration at the school would fire people for using the wrong pronouns.

The College Fix reports:

University proposal to force preferred pronoun usage on shaky legal ground, free speech experts agree

Several experts in constitutional freedom of speech have raised red flags about the University of Minnesota’s proposed new policy to impose strict penalties for refusing to refer to someone by his or her chosen gender pronouns.

“Equity and Access: Gender Identity, Gender Expression, Nouns and Pronouns,” as currently drafted, states that professors and students are expected “to use the names, gender identities, and pronouns specified to them by other university members.” Sanctions for refusing to use someone’s chosen pronouns could result in “disciplinary action up to and including termination from employment and academic sanctions up to and including academic expulsion.”

Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute’s Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies, told The College Fix the policy, if approved, “is on a collision course with the First Amendment rights of university members.”

“As a public institution with an educational mission to uphold, Minnesota can appropriately make some demands of its members, such as respecting norms of collegiality, refraining from insult, observing consistent standards in filling out paperwork, and so forth,” Olson told The Fix via email.

“But this does not constitute a blank check to police and punish language use generally, especially not in politically charged areas of speech, and most especially when the policy departs from viewpoint neutrality to side with some controversial views over others.”

Reached via email, Terence Pell, president of the Center for Individuals Rights, told The Fix that the policy “raises serious First Amendment concerns.”


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