The University of Pittsburgh has released a set of “Gender-Inclusive/Non-Sexist Language Guidelines and Resources” informing instructors how they should be talking in their classrooms in order to not offend anyone.
One suggestion is to ask “students to write down preferred names and pronouns” on the first day while also keeping in mind that just because a student wanted a particular pronoun on the first day doesn’t mean that he/she/they/zi/zie will always want that pronoun because “a person’s gender identity may change over time.”
Oh, and in case you’re one of those people who thinks that using “they” to refer to a single person is grammatically incorrect, the guidelines clarify that thinking this way is actually wrong:
“By this argument we should bring back singular thou/thee/thine!” it exclaims.
It also suggests avoiding “sexist” language such as “freshman” and “congressman,” and “including the Gender-Inclusive/Non-Sexist Language Syllabi Statement in your syllabi to let students know that you want your classroom to be an inclusive space.”
Although the document does clarify that the guidelines are by no means mandatory, it also compares not following them to insulting a stranger’s outfit:
“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,” it states.
“Isn’t it nice to have a little guidance about how to be considerate and polite?” it asks.
The guidelines were co-authored by linguistics professor Scott F. Kiesling and visiting English/Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies lecturer Julie Beaulieu.
— Katherine Timpf is a reporter at National Review Online.