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Use ‘preferred pronouns’ or else, university’s gender inclusion plan warns

Joe Bukuras   By Joe Bukuras for CNA

(Image: Shutterstock)

Boston, Mass., Jan 16, 2022 / 04:00 am (CNA).

The bishops of Fargo and Bismarck are speaking out against a proposed “gender inclusion” policy that would require everyone at the University of North Dakota — even visitors — to use preferred pronouns and affirm individuals’ chosen gender identities, or face the consequences.

Under the proposed rules, violators risk being expelled, fired, or kicked off campus, as spelled out under the University’s existing discrimination, harassment, and sexual misconduct policies.

A draft of the policy also obliges the school to provide students with on-campus housing “consistent with their gender identity and expression,” and it applies the same gender identity rules to locker rooms and restrooms.

Located in Grand Forks, the state university has about 13,780 students and some 2,500 employees.

Christopher Dodson, the executive director and general counsel of the North Dakota Catholic Conference, representing the two dioceses, says the proposal as written is unconstitutional.

“We recognize that everyone should be treated with respect and that the university has a role in facilitating a respectful learning environment,” Dodson states in an Oct. 21 letter to Jennifer Rogers, the university’s policy officer.

“However, this proposal goes beyond setting mere rules for administrative tasks. Indeed, it embraces and demands acceptance of a particular ideology about gender and language that infringes upon free speech and religious rights,” Dodson states.

“We are particularly concerned about the proposal’s lack of any exemption for student organizations,” the letter continues.

“Fraternities and sororities are provided a limited exemption, but not student organizations. This means that UND would require student organizations to use preferred pronouns, accept expressed genders, and reject binary understandings of gender even if doing so conflicted with their sincerely held religious beliefs,” Dodson states.

“Students and faculty do not lose their First Amendment rights when they enter the doors of a state university. This is well-established constitutional law,” the letter continues. “The proposed policy by UND amounts to unconstitutionally compelling speech and a particular viewpoint.”

The conference on Jan. 10 sent a second letter outlining its concerns to parents of students in Catholic high schools and, in some cases, other Catholic parishioners with high school students.

The school’s proposal also drew fire from Grand Forks Mayor Brandon Bochenski, who said in a Facebook post that it “spits in the face of everything we believe in” and called it a “sad day for my alma mater,” the Star Tribune reported.

In a 45-minute press conference on Jan. 14, University President Andrew Armacost called Dodson’s input “useful.” He said he is taking his time to slowly draft the next revision of the policy because Dodson brought up important constitutional issues that need to be addressed “the proper way.”

But Armacost, a former brigadier general and retired dean at the Air Force Academy, defended the intent of the proposed policy.

“The draft policy is intended to state our support to our LGBTQ members and, in particular, to our transgender and nonbinary members, with that same guarantee of access to education and fair employment without fear of discrimination or harassment,” Armacost said.

Addressing the Catholic conference’s concern about housing arrangements for students, Armacost said students are able to request a roommate change for any reason.

In an interview with CNA, Dodson said he appreciated “clarification on the housing issue,” and said that “future iterations of the proposal, if any, should clearly address this issue.”

“Students should not, however, have to rely on receiving an exemption to the on-campus housing policy or requesting a roommate change to ensure that the student is placed with someone of the same sex,” he added.

Dodson said the conference shares the university’s desire to create a learning environment free of harassment but he called the policy proposal “overbroad.”

Bishop John T. Folda is the leader of the Diocese of Fargo. The Diocese of Bismarck is led by Bishop David D. Kagan.

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  1. My preferred pronouns are”your majesty” and “his majesty.”

    All my fellow CWR commenters be advised, you need to use my preferred pronouns or face the consequences.

      • John!

        Yes, of course! As you may suspect, I am always happy to opine, thank you!

        I find it terribly disturbing that this mad, reality-denying abrogation of God’s role as Creator has spread so far into formerly sane and rational middle America as North Dakota.

        I also cannot imagine that — between this insanity, plus the killing of scores of millions of innocent children around the world each year, plus the generalized turning away from God in the Western world, plus so much more — we will not be soon feeling a swift, hard, painful corrective from our Creator.

        (And thank you, John, for using my preferred pronouns!)

        (For some reason, few — not even my wife — do.)

  2. How sad that woke ideology has penetrated as far as the wilds on North Dakota. I would suggest folks take their excess tuition cash and go to school someplace else where rationality prevails. When you attempt to FORCE people to speak in a certain way, and accept an unreality which is not real, this is what dictatorships do and it should be vigorously opposed in any way possible. The biggest question always is,if you cooperate with this, what accommodation will they expect next, or what civil right will they attempt to expunge? I hope alumni of the school are paying attention and also withhold their money.The time to oppose this nonsense is NOW.

  3. When god made humanity god made man and woman and in the animal kingdom god made male and female. May i ask all the dumb clucks the idots is it difficult to understand this simple
    difference between persons. the bottom line there can only be two genders MALE AND FEMALE
    and to be crass rude and vulgar a man has a penis and woman has a vagina and for those who choose to live a life of debauchery the bum entrance of a man for a vagina because humanity has degraded itself to the times of sodom and gonorrhea. all this gender issues are a whole load of hog wash. i call on all of humanity to get to their senses and live like human beings MALE AND FEMALE

  4. The University of North Dakota obviously does not support the LGBTQ members or transgender and nonbinary members, because that support should be to “will the good of the other,” according to St. Thomas Aquinas. Willing their good would not be supporting their delusional view of immutable characteristics given by God. Reinforcing the confusion of any individual by going along with their confusion is unhealthy and destructive. Instead, they should be directed toward counseling that will help them sort their confusion and come to the realization that we are all what God made us to be.

  5. The only “ideology” I see in this is common courtesy. If a person wishes to be referred to in a particular way, why argue and fuss about it? A new pastor once came to my church. He preferred the reference Father (last name) rather than Father (first name) as the previous priest preferred. I suppose I could have argued his Christian name was more appropriate than his family name, but instead, I invited him for dinner, spoke with him after Mass, and when talking about him with other people, referred to Father (last name).

    As for pronouns, there are a lot of them. If it gets confusing, don’t use pronouns. If you care about the person, call them by whatever they tell you. Why act like a jerk about it?

    • You seem to miss the point that these institutions are trying to CRIMINALIZE and penalize people who use the PROPER pronouns. People should not have to jump through hoops or tip-toe around this nonsense. Not too long ago people who paraded around pretending to be someone or something else were deemed in need of mental assistance. Now, they are trying to force everyone else to play their games. People who do not want to participate in their games. Like the baker taken to court multiple times for declining their business. Etc. This is NOT harmless and I would suggest the people who decline to participate in these crazed fantasies are NOT the “jerks”. I prefer the dont ask, dont tell approach. I am not interested in anyone else’s sexuality and I dont want it thrown in my face. Do your own thing but leave me out of it. With the use of “drag Queen story times” they are trying to indoctrinate small children as well. This is NOT the same issue as calling a priest by his first or last name , by a long-shot.

      • Only legislatures can make criminal law. Any business can develop policy which, admittedly, can lead to serious consequences such as a loss of a job, or the denial of consumer services. And yes, this can end up being totally arbitrary.

        The truth is that young people are prone to bullying and being bullied. I saw it years ago in the Catholic prep school I attended. An otherwise good learning and religious environment was frequently spoiled by knuckle-headed behavior. “Boys will be boys” was the common cited quote. Humbug.

        Consider: I’m approaching a food vendor on the street to buy lunch, and the person says, “Nice sunny day,” as it rains. I’m there to buy a taco or a hot dog. I’m not going to get into a discussion on meteorology. For all I k now the person got a business loan or got engaged, and to them it is a sunny day. I nod, pay for my food, and move along.

        The people who insist on their own terminology, names, and labels for people they don’t otherwise know are indeed being jerks. I don’t think they will go to prison. But a professor must be above reproach in dealing with young people. Likewise staff at learning institutions.

        Between you and me, I’d hope that students would be encouraged to stand up to jerks personally, and not be intimidated or rely overly much on institution-dished punishments. But I don’t know how bad it has been at UND. Maybe a little more investigation would tell us the level of discourtesy.

        • It’s a state university, so it’s bound by law to the first amendment. A state university cannot legally try to control language, thought, or freedom of association. It’s not a private business, so your argument is a straw man.

        • I have just retired from teaching Health/Sex Education for 36 years in the public school system. The bullying of our childhood has been replaced with indoctrinated tolerance of all behaviors- to the point where students hesitate to intervene on anything- even if they perceive it personally as wrong. As far as the choice of pronouns, I saw many young girls decide overnight they were changing their gender in order to join an ever growing group of friends. Teachers were told to adopt the pronouns or face HIB ( harassment, bullying, intimidation) charges. In my state, students can change gender without parent knowledge- and if we tell parents, we are disciplined. The LGBT groups weld much power in the college/ educational communities and are supported by powerful forces- rather then support a “live and let live” philosophy, they often seek to extinguish groups and persons who disagree with their lifestyle choices by labeling such groups (often Christian/Catholic) as bigoted.

        • As a retired public school teacher of 36 years, I will say that the bullying we remember from our youth has been replaced with an indoctrinated tolerance of all behaviors. Students hesitate to intervene in any situation even when they perceive it as wrong. I did not see the LGBT students as being bullied and in fact most are quite popular. I did observe many students who overnight decided that they wanted to change their gender to join an ever growing group of friends. We were instructed as teachers to use their new pronouns or face HIB charges (harassment intimidation bullying). Also, in my state, a minor can change their gender without parents being informed- and if a teacher tells a parent, they can be disciplined. The LGBT groups have a lot of pull in these educational settings and are supported by powerful organizations. Rather then promoting a “live and let live” philosophy, they often seek to cancel groups and individuals whose views differ (Christian/Catholic groups) by labeling such groups/individuals as bigoted.

  6. I wonder if the president of UND might reconsider his position if he received thousands of emails from CWR readers and other concerned citizens? Let’s put our money where our mouths are and speak real truth to power! Especially since it’s a state university.

  7. Here’s a manufactured pronoun that covers a fair amount of territory: “s/he/it.” It can be pronounced with either a short “i” or a long “e” sound according to the preference of the user. It includes both female and male, of course, and the “it” includes everyone else.

    • The suggestion of “s/h/it” as a third-person common-gender pronoun does have several advantages: it is comprehensive in its coverage, pronounceable, and recognizable as an English word. Even so, however, it fails to recognize cultural diversity sufficiently. One of the great accomplishments of Russian, Prussian, and Austro-Hungarian imperialism would be to require the peoples occupied by those powers to cease using their own language in school and in public. Suppose the North American continent were conquered by the original European powers. What is now the Eastern seaboard would be administered from Montreal with all public speech required in French. The Midwest and Southwest would be required to speak Spanish by the central power in Mexico City. And North Dakota would be governed from Sitka,Alaska and required to use Russian. Unlike Spanish and French, which recognize only two genders (masculine and feminine), Russian recognizes three–including a neuter. There is even a language that does not distinguish gender in the third person singular, and one of my students claimed that introducing such a requirement would raise the status of women in the United States. The student grew angry when I expressed skepticism that introducing the pronoun “Oo”. For that is the pronoun still used in the Islamic Republic of Iran for the third person singular. Perhaps the people of the Dakotas would like to switch to Farsi? Frankly, I doubt it. Even marshal law would provoke resistance.

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  1. Use ‘preferred pronouns’ or else, university’s gender inclusion plan warns – Via Nova Media
  2. Use ‘preferred pronouns’ or else, university’s gender inclusion plan warns – Catholic World Report – The Old Roman

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