Two employees at a Christian university were fired for keeping their pronouns in their email signatures, which they say was in keeping with industry standards and helps people know what pronouns to use with their unusual names.
Two former dorm administrators Shua Wilmot and Raegan Zelaya at Houghton University—a tiny Christian university in Western New York affiliated with the Wesleyan church—recognized their names are unusual. They added gender identities to their professional email signatures to avoid confusion, not as a symbol of solidarity.
Shua Wilmot employs "he/him" and Raegan Zelaya is addressed as "she/her."
To comply with a new policy for email formats that went into effect in September, former employer Houghton University requested they remove the gender identifiers. Both were dismissed for failing to do so.
In a nearly hour-long video on the subject, Zelaya and Wilmot defended keeping their gender identities in their signatures as a way to help people writing to them.
My name is Shua. It’s an unusual name. And it ends with a vowel, ‘a,’ that is traditionally feminine in many languages."
Even though Houghton University said they were not fired for keeping pronouns in their signatures, the pair shared the contents of their letters of termination in the video.
"[The termination is] a result of your refusal to remove pronouns in your email signatures in violation of institutional policy.”
The reactions online were all over the place.
Unfortunately there were the many vocal transphobes who agreed with the university's decision, often using deragatory language about people who put pronouns in their email signatures.
Others tried to come up with justification for the university's policy and decision.
Reactions also drew people familiar with the university.
Some alumni supported the former employees or didn't support their alma mater.
Some focused on the reason Wilmot and Zelaya tried to keep the pronouns in their signatures.
And asked how to eliminate confusion in communication if anti-woke institutions are frightened by pronouns.
In the video the two former employees urged watchers to support change in university policies, but with civility.