In just the latest instance of taxpayer-funded censorship, students in one University of Florida course have been banned from using words such as “husband,” “wife,” “mom,” or dad” in the classroom and risk losing points off their grade if they don’t comply.
In the syllabus for her “Creativity In Context” class — a required course for any student pursuing a minor in Innovation — UF professor Jennifer Lee informs students of her four paragraph long classroom “communications policy” that she says will enforce “ethical conduct” in the classroom.
“The following policies and guidelines will be followed in this course,” the policy begins, followed by a bullet point instructing students to “Use inclusive language.” The policy mandates that students “[s]peak in a way that does not make assumptions about others based on “norms”, stereotypes, or one’s own identity or experience.”
The syllabus explains that this means replacing the words “boyfriend”/”girlfriend” with the more inclusive “partner” or “significant other.” The rule applies to conversations about married couples too: saying “husband” or “wife” is forbidden. Even the words “mom” and “dad” have a more “inclusive” alternative — students are told to use the word ‘family” instead.
By using the new words, Lee explains, students will be using speech that “is inclusive of alternative orientations and family structures, and free of stereotypes.”
Students are also required to comply with professor Lee’s “safe education environment policy” — distinct from her “communications policy” — which warns students that “any behavior or language that makes others feel unsafe or unwelcome in this classroom can and will not be tolerated.” Lee openly acknowledges that this no-tolerance policy covers “interrupting or ignoring others.”
Lee’s exhaustive policies aren’t just meaningless words, either. She warns that “Students who do not meet conduct expectations will be given one warning by electronic mail, and continued behavior issues will result in the loss participation points per course instructor’s discretion.” She did not reply to The Daily Caller’s request for comment.
Ari Cohn, a lawyer with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) told TheDC that the policies are “likely to chill classroom discussion to the detriment of all.” He went on to say that Lee’s “inclusive language” policy presents “a veritable minefield through which students must tip-toe when they wish to participate in class. Faced with the possibility of a lower grade, students are likely to refrain from providing their input for fear that the professor or a classmate will be offended by something that they say, no matter how unreasonably.”
Cohn noted, “Generally, professors have the discretion, and the right—consistent with principles of academic freedom—to conduct their classrooms as they see fit. However, faculty members must be careful not to infringe on the rights of their students to freedom of expression, and freedom of conscience.”
Lee isn’t the first professor to face public scrutiny for banning words inside the classroom. Just last fall, multiple professors at Washington State University threatened students with bad grades if they used “oppressive and hateful language” such as “illegal alien,” “male,” or “female,” in the classroom. After public backlash, the school walked back the language mandates.
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