Suck it, Jordan Peterson


One of the agenda items in my pile of university meetings was a discussion of this bit of official University of Minnesota policy. The discussion was brought to the table by oSTEM@Morris, a new student club for LGBTQ+ students in the sciences.

Name, Gender Identity and Pronouns

  1. University members may, without being required to provide documentation: use a specified name that differs from the name listed on their legal documents, use a gender identity that differs from their legal sex and/or sex assigned at birth, and/or specify the pronouns and other gendered personal references used to refer to them.
  2. University members can determine whether, how, and with whom to share their specified names, gender identities, and/or pronouns or other gendered personal references used to refer to them.
  3. University members and units are expected to use the names, gender identities, and pronouns specified to them by other University members, except as legally required. University members and units are also expected to use other gendered personal references, if any, that are consistent with the gender identities and pronouns specified by University members.

Privacy

Units must take reasonable steps to maintain the privacy of the pronouns, gender identities, and legal sexes of University members that are maintained in University records. Only school officials with a legitimate educational interest in knowing the pronouns, gender identity and legal sex of a student maintained in University records should access, or be provided access to, this information. Only individuals whose work assignments reasonably require access to the pronouns, gender identity and legal sex of any other University member maintained in University records should access, or be provided access to, this information. In addition, where a University member has indicated a specified name, units should maintain the privacy of the University member’s legal name when possible.

Data Collection
Where possible, a University unit or member who is collecting information about University members’ legal sexes, sexes assigned at birth, and/or gender identities should explain at the time of collection the reason for collecting the information and how the information will be used. University members do not have to respond to requests to disclose their legal sex, sex assigned at birth, or gender identity, except when legally required or when there is a legitimate University-related reason for the request.

Programs, Activities and Facilities

  1. When the University provides housing, restrooms and locker rooms, it will provide individuals of all gender identities with the opportunity to access housing, restrooms and locker rooms.
  2. University members may access gender-specific facilities that correspond with their gender identities and may participate in University activities and programs consistent with their gender identities including, but not limited to, housing, restrooms, locker rooms, recreation services and activities, and camp programs.
  3. University members will not be required to use gender-specific facilities that are inconsistent with their gender identities, or to use gender-inclusive facilities: 1) because their legal sex differs from their gender identity, or 2) because of their gender expression.

The students also told us that we were already doing a good job supporting diversity in our classrooms! Yay, us! Always nice to have a happy item in the discussion.

There was no dissent or concern from our university faculty on the issues, so it’s also nice to have an agenda item that doesn’t drive endless argument, and instead has everyone giving a thumbs up to the policy and smoothly moving on.

By the way, oSTEM looks like an excellent organization. Check it out.

Comments

  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    oSTEM, according to the link above, stands for “Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Incorporated”.

    Does UM-Morris not have any liberal arts LGBTQ(etc) students?

  2. ionopachys says

    I just don’t get why its so hard for some people to address a person the way that person asks to be addressed. I reflexively use the universal masculine because it was literally beaten into me by age six, but if someone who I know has a penis tells me they are a woman named Sally, it’s no imposition upon me to call her Sally. I know some people are bullies and want to prove they have power by hurting others, but I would think that most people would be moved either by courtesy or just a desire to save time and energy and to avoid drama.

    By the way, I had to consciously force myself to type “they” in reference to the hypothetical Sally, and it felt wrong, but that’s my problem.

  3. numerobis says

    ionopachys: Come to think of it, I don’t know whether anyone at work has a penis or a vulva. I assume several do, but it’s almost certainly illegal for me to ask — or it should be.

  4. gijoel says

    @2 Cause it threatens their identity and their status. Some people, by which I mean mostly men, will kill to protect their identities.

  5. Pierce R. Butler says

    PZ Myers @ # 5: Oh wow yes.

    Then why do the STEMists have a separate organization? Do the liberal artists not need one – or if they do, then which group has excluded (itself from?) the other?

  6. garysturgess says

    Pierce R. Butler@6: I would have assumed it was not a case of exclusion but of common interest; at least in Australia, that’s how most university student clubs work. For example, at Murdoch there is (or at least used to be) Murdoch Alternate Reality Society devoted to tabletop RPGs and board games; nobody ever accused them of being exclusive because they didn’t include video gaming – there were other clubs for that.

  7. jellorat says

    I wish the university I graduated from had something like this when I got my accounting degree in 2014. I got outed during an awards banquet that resulted in some noodle-head accusing me of being an imposter because the gender I was awarded was different than what I appeared to be.

  8. Pierce R. Butler says

    garysturgess @ # 7 – Yabbut we have a case of intersectionality here.

    STEM students have STEM interests, LGBTQ+ students have LGBTQ+ interests.

    What interests do LGBTQ+ STEM students have that they do not share with other LGBTQ+ students or other STEM students?

  9. garysturgess says

    Pierce R Butler@9: I mean, I don’t have an answer to your question, but I wouldn’t necessarily assume it was a sinister one. Isn’t the point of intersectionality to have more groups, rather than fewer?

  10. Pierce R. Butler says

    garysturgess @ # 10: Isn’t the point of intersectionality to have more groups, rather than fewer?

    I don’t think this involves anything sinister either, but it strikes me as a point of curiosity.

    People organize to share activities and/or to gain/exercise influence: splitting up without a reason seems counterproductive to both. Perhaps UM-Morris scheduling or campus layout make it hard to coordinate STEMists with other student subgroups of whatever orientation; possibly a personality-driven division years ago became institutionalized.

    It seems, from the above report, that the LGBTQ+ists do not face a fierce struggle with faculty or administration at present, so the apparent divergence of student organization(s?) does not put them at significant disadvantage. Still, it appeared to me (neither LGBTQ nor STEM) peculiar enough to, just barely, justify a casual query.

  11. garysturgess says

    Pierce R Butler@11: Yeah fair enough – maybe they just like the acronym. :) If I were forced to consider why they might have formed this, perhaps I might hypothesize that there is a perceived shortage of LGBTQ+ individuals in STEM that is less true in the humanities, so their club is designed (in some small way) to mitigate that with encouragement.

    But of course I don’t know whether there is such a shortage, perceived or otherwise, and it would be sheer speculation on my behalf (as a cis white straight male in a Western democracy I’m playing Real Life on Easy Mode, so it’s really not for me to say of course).

  12. John Morales says

    garysturgess:

    (as a cis white straight male in a Western democracy I’m playing Real Life on Easy Mode, so it’s really not for me to say of course)

    Why not? Seriously.

    You may lack others’ perspective, but others lack your perspective.
    If you can’t say, why should they?

    (Upon whom is it to say?)

  13. Pierce R. Butler says

    John Morales @ # 13: (Upon whom is it to say?)

    Uh, those who know?

    All us ignorami can do is try to ask questions without embarrassing ourselves or offending the questionees…

  14. Ridana says

    Pierce R. Butler@6:
    Perhaps this will help explain why:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_people_in_science
    Science culture is different from liberal arts culture so LGBT+ folk face different issues.
    As I understand it, oSTEM is for students, who confront different challenges than their professional counterparts who have NOGLSTP advocating for them (National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals, which apparently hasn’t updated its name since its founding (probably for length and pronounceability), though its activism is now more inclusive).

  15. ANB says

    Good to see. My educational institution (a semi-large K-12 district in CA) has similar policies, though not as distinctly spelled out. Though I live in one of the most conservative parts of CA, my fellow educators are wonderful. (I’m currently teaching juniors and seniors; last year I was working in K-8).

  16. microraptor says

    John Morales @13: Well, you could always try asking the LGBTQ people who came out. Cis and straight are definitely easy mode. Or you could ask the people who’ve tried disguising themselves as members of other races- white is very much easy mode.

  17. John Morales says

    microraptor:

    Well, you could always try asking the LGBTQ people who came out. Cis and straight are definitely easy mode. Or you could ask the people who’ve tried disguising themselves as members of other races- white is very much easy mode.

    I don’t need to ask them; I asked the person who specifically made the claim.

    (See, I’m not asking what the objective truth of the perceived sociological circumstances are, I’m asking for some sort of justification. Too oblique for you, apparently)

    Note that, by definition, neither “LGBTQ people” (whether or not they’ve come out) or those who disguised themselves are the “other”. And the claim was that, not knowing the “other”, one is in no position to have an opinion.

    Pierce:

    Uh, those who know?

    Um, my question was equivalent to “who knows”? So yeah, those who know, know.

    So… who knows? I mean, you intimated you know one side, but not the other, thus you decline to opine other than to opine on the basis that you are thereby not in a position to opine. I noted the converse applies, which, logically, only leaves the null set as those who may opine, if one is consistent.

    All us ignorami can do is try to ask questions without embarrassing ourselves or offending the questionees

    Hm. I think you embarrass yourself by your pathetic avoidance of opinion, other than that you opine you are not worthy to opine, but fair enough, cringe-worthy as it may be to me. Also, I hope you used ‘ignorami’ jocularly, since it’s not the actual plural.

  18. garysturgess says

    John Morales@19: It’s not for me to say because I am neither generally speaking an LGBTQ+ person, nor specifically an LGBTQ+ STEM student, nor even more specifically an LGBTQ+ STEM student in this particular student organisation.

    And more generally, because my default approach is to recognise my own massive privilege and listen rather than throw in any ignorant opinions I may have.

    Good enough? :)

  19. John Morales says

    garysturgess:

    Good enough? :)

    Not by my standards. I mean, false self-effacement grates with me.

    This whole idea that one has to be X to have an opinion about X is what’s problematic; what, you think LGBTQ+ or STEM (as if those were somehow comparable!) people don’t have opinions about you? And if they did, you’re not supposed to have an opinion about their opinion, are you? Not by your own contention.

    … to recognise my own massive privilege and listen rather than throw in any ignorant opinions I may have

    Um, that is an opinion. Presumably you don’t think it’s ignorant (heh), but you’ve sure thrown it in.

    Frankly, you come across to me as elitist and patronising. And certainly opinionated.

  20. Jazzlet says

    John Morales
    Whereas you come across as argumentative to no purpose, other that relieving your boredom, which is shitty behaviour.

  21. Pierce R. Butler says

    John Morales @ # 19: … you intimated you know one side…

    For a pedantic literalist, you sometimes rely overmuch on implications and inferences which just can’t carry that load.

  22. Kevin Karplus says

    There is something new here? Our university has had this policy for years—students can change their name and pronouns as seen by instructors and in the directory (or remove themselves from the public directory) and have been able to do so for quite some time. Well, officially recording the pronouns is relatively recent, but that was just because the database did not have any field for it—previously gender information was just not available in the records (there may have been something in the Registrar’s records, but instructors didn’t see it).

    We are encouraged (though not required) to put our pronouns on our syllabi and in our email signatures. I do the syllabus, but not the signature, as my email signature is already too long.

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