Kennesaw State LGBTQ pamphlet prompts gender and language debate

3:16 p.m Friday, March 2, 2018 Atlanta News
A Kennesaw State University flag flies in the south end zone prior to the start of an Owls’ football game last year. Kennesaw is the site of renewed debate about language and gender. File photo

Can college students become accustomed to using “ne” instead of “he” and “nirs” instead of “hers”?

Issues of gender and language continue to stir up strong feelings on college campuses. The latest flash point is at Kennesaw State University, where a pamphlet prepared by the LGBT Resource Center offers guidance on gender neutral pronouns.

The pamphlet suggests a new lexicon to cover the many forms of gendered pronouns in common use, such as “he,” “she,” “him,” “her,” “his,” “hers,” and includes the new coinages “ne,” “ve,” “ey,” “ze” “hir,” “zi,” and “ze.”

The conservative news website Campus Reform has tweeted about the pamphlet, and quotes computer science student Francis Hayes who asked “Why is this university entertaining something as useless as this?”

Readers responding to Campus Reform’s Twitter posting ridiculed the pamphlet, including a Patrick Driscoll, who wrote “Esperanto is making a comeback, apparently.”

Conflict between creators of the pamphlet and its critics points to some of the unresolved gender issues that exist in contemporary life. Such issues often come to a head on college campuses, where they are more likely to be discussed.

The AJC’s Vanessa McCray and Nelson Helm recently wrote about that ongoing debate on Georgia campuses.

A call to the LGBTQ Resource Center at Kennesaw State was not immediately returned.

The shooting death of Scout Schultz, a Georgia Tech student killed last year during a confrontation with police, sparked more discussion of gender and language, among other issues. Schultz, president of the Georgia Tech Pride Alliance, identified as neither male nor female, and preferred the pronoun “they,” which brought criticism of news outlets that referred to Scout in those terms.