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A nonbinary student at the College of Southern Idaho has gone viral after calling out a professor who refused to use their preferred pronouns.
Shade, who uses they/them pronouns, emailed their professor before the start of the spring semester politely informing them of their correct pronouns and desired name.
Their professor partially obliged, agreeing to refer to her student by Shade, as opposed to the legal name on their college forms.
However, she stated her “convictions” prevented her from using Shade’s preferred pronouns, NBC affiliate KPVI reports.
In a follow-up email, Shade made clear their pronouns were non-negotiable and integral to their nonbinary identity.
“I was just informing you of my correct name and pronouns so you know how to refer to me,” Shade wrote. “Intentionally misgendering a student is actively creating a hostile learning environment and discriminating on the basis of gender identity.”
In addition to sending the email to their professor, Shade also filmed a TikTok reading out the email response. The video has received over 1.8 million views since being posted on Jan. 4.
Shade told KPVI that the response has been “crazy.”
“My phone has calmed down a bit now, but the first few days, it was nonstop notifications,” they said.
Shade said that the comments they had received had been inspiring, with one person “saying that they had watched a bunch of my videos and that they had been helpful because they’re about to adopt a trans daughter. I almost cried. That is so sweet.”
However, despite viral success, Shade’s professor has apparently resisted using any pronouns since spring semester began on January 11, only referring to Shade by name.
A spokesperson for CSI told KPVI that they couldn’t comment on ongoing situations involving personnel.
“All students and employees at the College of Southern Idaho are able to report concerns at any time through an online link located on the college’s main website,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “The link leads to a form which can be filled out after which the concern is routed to the appropriate point of contact on campus.”
They continued: “Student concerns are typically routed to the Dean of Students who works to address the concern. In cases where concerns are expressed about a faculty member, other instructional personnel are often involved, as is the Director of Human Resources when appropriate.”
Dean of Institutional Effectiveness and Communication at CSI, Chris Bragg, said that the college established a committee last fall to analyze diversity and inclusiveness on campus and “look at how we are handling issues for all sorts of different students so we have a comfortable environment for all students.”
Shade said that, despite the actions of one teacher, the majority of their professors and faculty members had been supportive of their nonbinary identity.
“I’m less concerned with what happens between this individual teacher and myself and more concerned with what happens school-wide,” Shade said. “Because personally, I have support. I’m not somebody who is going to be super broken up about it, but I know that’s not the case for a lot of trans students. In fact, for a lot of trans students, it might be that school is the only place where they could [possibly] get gendered correctly.”
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