Tennessee Students Asked To Use Gender-Neutral Pronouns

Posted at 12:56 PM, Aug 28, 2015

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - University of Tennessee students have been asked to use gender-neutral pronouns such as "ze."

Multiple media outlets report that the University of Tennessee Office for Diversity and Inclusion is asking students and faculty to use the pronouns in order to create a more inclusive campus.

The University of Tennessee's Pride Center Director, Donna Braquet, wrote on the university's website Wednesday that she is requesting that teachers ask each student to provide the name and pronoun he or she -- or ze -- wishes to be referred by. She says it relieves a burden for people expressing different genders or identities.

The university's Media and Internal Relations Director, Karen Ann Simsen, says there is no mandate or official policy to use the language.

The university later clarified its statements on its Facebook page, saying:

"We would like to offer clarification on statements referring to gender-neutral language.

There is no mandate or official policy to use gender-neutral pronouns. We do not dictate speech. Most people prefer to use the pronouns he and she. However, some don't.

The information provided in this week's Office of Diversity and Inclusion newsletter was offered as a resource to our campus community on inclusive practices.

We strive to be a diverse and inclusive campus and to ensure that everyone feels welcome, accepted, and respected."

(Copyright 2015 by NewsChannel 5 and The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)