The Stroller opinion editorial written in the Northwest Missourian questioned the purpose of using pronouns to identify gender. This article was written on the pure emotion of the writer and does not reflect the direction Northwest Missouri State University is heading as it relates to diversity, equity and inclusion.

The next couple of paragraphs will contain my rebuttal to the editorial written earlier.

The usage of non-binary pronouns allows a person to control their identity. You cannot always know what gender someone is by simply looking at them. Asking and correctly identifying is one of the most basic ways to show respect for their gender identity.

What if I referred to a person by the wrong name or assumed for example just because a person’s name was Shawn they were one gender instead of another gender? The person would feel disrespected, invalidated or even dismissed.

These are the same feelings, which may be felt by overlooking or not acknowledging the gender of a person.

This editorial has shown me as the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion the need to have civil discussion on topics such as pronouns and gender identity.

The theme at Northwest Missouri State University is civility and as stated by the university president Dr. John Jasinski, “Intercultural competence, along with respect and integrity are central to our university values. We will discuss, act upon and uphold our cultural values and expectations.”

Instead of questioning the learning of pronouns, let’s start the process of having civil, engaging discussions on the topic, so we can all learn and make our knowledge base stronger.

If our overall goal is to create an inclusive environment, why don't we all start taking a look at how we can create that inclusive environment? We must start respecting everyone regardless of their religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity or gender identity. The goal for all of us at Northwest Missouri State is to create an environment of inclusion for the school’s diverse array of students, even students who identify as genderfluid.

To the person who wrote the article, I am not saying you need learn all of the pronouns, which exist, but I am asking you to respect the wishes of others when they want to be called by their identifying pronoun or even another name.

Inclusion is not all about knowledge, but respect. Let me be the first to start the gender identification campaign at Northwest Missouri State University, my name is Dr. Justin Mallett and I prefer to use the pronouns He/Him/His.

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