UPDATE: Professor Joshua Burford, who was interviewed for the Fox piece, has voiced his displeasure with the news station’s handling of this report. He commented on our Facebook page where we shared this article, which links to the Fox story:
This linked article is not a reliable one. The Fox folks asked me questions about the nature of Safe Zone and then somehow turned it into a story about us “requiring” students to use Gender inclusive language. Safe Zone is not a new program, but rather a long existing and evolving one that seeks to create affirming spaces on our campus.
The Fox article states, “The program isn’t mandated or forced, but students are split on the issue of whether or not it’s needed.”
The feature includes interviews with UNCC students, some of whom were supportive, others of whom were not.
A program at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, called “Safe Zone,” is asking faculty, staff and students to use gender neutral pronouns to be more inclusive to the transgender community.
The program suggests using “ze” instead of “he” and “she,” and “hir” and “hirself” in place of “her/him” and “herself/himself.”
The chart below show both the gender neutral pronouns UNCC is recommending, as well as Spivak pronouns, which are another option, though not widely used anymore.
We always want students to use more inclusive language as often as possible and we stress this a lot when we are in classrooms and offering programs. Conversations about inclusive language are a good starting point to open up dialogue about difference and to empower students to speak up more often. Student are also able to access information about inclusive language through class presentations offered by my office, programming that we run here in the office, and by advising of student organizations. In this way students are both actively and passively encouraged to use inclusive language as often as possible. We don’t have physical pamphlets in a traditional sense but do use our website as a resource in this way.
Do you use these gender neutral pronouns? If not, will you start? Let us know in the comments.