Free speech

University foils professor’s plan to ban the words “male” and “female”

Monica Almeida/The New York Times

Ahhh, higher education: An incubator for discourse and the free exchange of conflicting, if sometimes uncomfortable, ideas. Right? Well for most, yes, but one gender-studies professor at Washington State University launched an attack on that delicate construct by threatening to punish students who used the words “male” and “female” to refer to men and women in her “Women and Popular Culture” course. Selena Lester Breikss lumped those two terms in with the use of other “racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, classist, or generally offensive language.” Repeated use of such “oppressive” language in her class, Breikss warned students, could result in “failure for the semester.” Not surprisingly, students, apparently using words not deemed oppressive, spoke up about the controversial policy, and the university shot down Breikss’ Draconian plan this week, saying in a statement, “No student will have points docked merely as a result of using terms that may be deemed offensive to some.” Phew! Free speech wins.

Read the full story at the National Review.

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