A New York Christian university fired two employees for putting pronouns in their respective email signatures, these former workers allege, according to reports.
Raegan Zelaya and Shua Wilmot, who were directors of residence at Houghton University, said administrators told them to remove the words “she/her” and “he/she” from their email signatures.
The university, Zelaya and Wilmot alleged, claimed that its inclusion of pronouns violated a new school policy, the new york times informed. Zelaya and Wilmot refused to remove their pronouns and were fired, several weeks before the end of the semester.
His firing comes as Houghton University has taken steps increasingly in line with religious conservatism at better-known Christian universities like Liberty University in Virginia and Hillsdale College in Michigan, the Times wrote. These universities often attract Republican-leaning students, some of whom adhere to the party’s invocation of Christianity to enact anti-LGBTQ+ measures.
Houghton University closed a multicultural student center about two years ago. The school no longer recognizes a group of LGBTQ+ students because the club refused to push for a more conservative discourse on gender and sex, the Times reported.
“I think it all comes down to: They want to be trans-exclusive and they want to communicate that to prospective students and parents of prospective students,” Wilmot said of her firing.
Neither Zelaya nor Wilmot identify as transgender. They said their reasons for including pronouns in email signatures were due to their gender-neutral names, which has led to them being misinterpreted in written correspondence, as well as personal ethics.
“There is the professional part and there is the practical part, and there is also the inclusive part, and I think that is the part that this institution does not want,” Wilmot told the Times.
A Houghton University spokesperson said the school has “never terminated an employment relationship based solely on the use of pronouns in staff email signatures.”
“For the past several years, we have demanded that everything extraneous be removed from email signatures, including Bible quotes,” the spokesperson told the Times.
Some Houghton graduates have criticized the decision. Some 600 people signed an online letter this spring protesting the firings of Zelaya and Wilmot.
“Our overall concern is that these recent changes demonstrate a troubling pattern of failure by the current administration to respect that faithful and active Christians reasonably hold a variety of theological and ethical views,” the minister said. stated letter.