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UPittsburgh Releases Gender-Inclusive Language Guide

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In a conscious effort to respect the gender identity of its community, the University of Pittsburgh has released a gender-inclusive language guide that contains the new pronouns used by students and staff members. 

TribLIVE reported that the newly published guide includes “non-sexist language guidelines and resources” to minimize sexism and homophobia on campus. 

“To avoid unintentionally creating a sexist and homophobic classroom environment, during discussions do not limit yourself to male examples or heterosexual examples. Teachers can and should honor the breadth of experience and potential in students’ lives by discussing women, gender non-conforming, and LGBT- identified people,” the guide read. 

Non-gendered pronouns such as “they” and “ze” and having students introduce themselves and their preferred pronouns are recommended in the guide. Furthermore, the university plans to use terms such as “colleague, guests, all, yinz, friends, people, students, folks” instead of “ladies and gentlemen” among other changes.

“If you are unsure what name or pronoun set a colleague or student uses in a particular setting, ask!” the guide added.

Constructive Criticism?

Some have found the recommended measures to be excessive, including Senator Ted Cruz, who tweeted his thoughts on the language guide.

Gerald Shuster, a professor of political communication and presidential rhetoric at UPittsburgh, remarked that the university takes pride in its efforts to be more gender sensitive. The school argues that constantly misgendering a person can be likened to having your name mispronounced repeatedly. 

“We don’t characterize anybody unfairly anymore, intentionally,” Shuster said. “But (Pitt) is also working very hard to make sure that we don’t unintentionally create issues for transgender students or students who feel they are unfairly characterized.”

Linguistics professor Scott Kiesling clarified that no one is forced to follow the guidelines.

“You are free to not use this language. You are also free to criticize the way someone is dressed even if you don’t know them, but then most people would probably think you are rude. Isn’t it nice to have a little guidance about how to be considerate and polite?” Kiesling remarked.

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