Two school staff fired for using pronouns in their emails

Two school staffers have been fired for the “crime” of using pronouns in emails.

In this specific instance it happened at Houghton University. This is a Conservative Christian run collage located in New York state roughly 60 miles south-east of Buffalo.

So yes that’s a cue for this reactions …

  • It was ‘Christian Run’, they must have known what might happen

OK, so park that thought and let’s get into a bit of detail.

Some Background

The collage itself has been shifting to the right to appeal to that specific religious demographic. It’s small of course, just under 1,000 students, so you will most probably not have come across them. In today’s polarised climate they find themselves having to align with modern conservative values to attract students. That alignment means that they have been following the “values” of their preferred tribe.

For example …

Since 2021, it has closed a multicultural student center and an environmental sustainability program and rescinded its recognition of an on-campus L.G.B.T.Q. club after the club declined to promote more conservative views on sex and gender.

Wait sorry, let me run that last part past you again.

They closed the LGBTQ club because they refused to promote “conservative views on sex and gender“.

So how exactly would that work, is that where the club holds a meeting of LGBTQ students to tell them they are all going to hell?

The other observation is that the collage administration was attempting to dictate how a club can operate, and that is quite frankly utterly absurd.

To be wholly clear about this, Conservative “values” on sex and gender are immoral and deeply unethical, but that’s a tad off topic. If I stayed on that, I’d end up using rather a lot of rather well-known Anglo-Saxon phrases that one does not normally anticipate basking in, so let’s move on to what has happened.

Raegan Zelaya commented to the press

In this case the press was just a student newspaper called “The Houghton Star”. The article in which she is quoted is titled “Mosaic Center Closing” and is dated April 14, 2023.

That centre is a Multicultural Center and was being shut because the administration … “view the space as exclusive and unwelcoming, leading to the effect of few students engaging in the learning experiences the space was intended to foster.

Ms Zelaya, the Women’s Area Coordinator, is quoted as follows …

…while she understands the reasoning behind closing the Mosaic Center, Houghton–as an institution–can’t claim to value diversity if we aren’t doing everything we can to safeguard and develop it.

“If anything,” Zelaya writes, “it feels like it just further demonstrates that the university is only interested in the kinds of diversity that are convenient for marketing purposes. It is outrageous to have diversity as a pillar in our strategic plan when we are actively cutting the programs and spaces that help empower diverse students to succeed.”

The response to that article was the following letter on April 19 firing her …

They are firing her because … well you can read it.

  • Was her opinion to a student paper either false or defamatory? Seriously no
  • But also apparently her primary “crime”, the one they led with, was to use pronouns within her email signature.

She is not the only staffer fired for “pronouns”

One other staffer, Shua Wilmot, has also been fired for using “pronouns”.

To be wholly clear about this, neither Shua, nor Raegan are Trans, but instead they are both committed Christians, who simply don’t adhere to the pronoun fanaticism of the Christian Right.

They are quoted as follows within a NYT article …

…they believed their dispute with the school boiled down to a difference of opinion over how best to live a Christian life.

They included their pronouns because they wanted to engage with society’s downtrodden as Jesus Christ might have done, they said.

“At the end of the day, it has no bearing on what I actually believe or what I think is a sin or not a sin,” Ms. Zelaya, 27, said. “It all comes down to: Am I loving people in a way that reflects Christ?”

She said she thought their firings were instead motivated by the university’s decision to “toe the party line” and appeal to the conservative political beliefs that dominate the evangelical Christian world.

“We live in a very divided world right now where everything is this or that, right or left, conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat,” Ms. Zelaya added. “As Christians, I think we’ve gotten so caught up in these ideas of, ‘This is what I should be advocating for or upset about,’ that we forget to actually care for people.”

I have some questions for you

You know that Raegan Zelaya is female.

How do you know that?

Well, because I used pronouns and referenced her as “She” or “Ms” within the above.

Now let me ask you this, what gender is the other staffer that was fired, is “Shua Wilmot” either “He” or “She”?

The point is this – they included pronouns within their email signatures because without them, you have no way of knowing what gender they are at all. Obviously people with common names don’t have that problem, for example “Mary” or “Fred”, but seriously, nobody will know if an email from “Shua” or “Raegan” is male or female unless they tell you.

To ban them telling you via an email signature is quite frankly utterly absurd, and to then fire them for doing so is absurdity on steroids.

The Modern Christian Message

While both Shua and also Raegan practice a Christian message of tolerance, acceptance, and inclusiveness, the loudest voice in the room here is intolerance and rejection.

Within the NYT article the collage spokesman claimed, “We have never terminated anybody for using pronouns“, yet they literally stated that as the reason for firing Raegan. Lying is really not a great look for a Christian Collage administration.

To put all this another way, the argument against modern Christianity is not a philosophical one, but instead is the response to the utterly obnoxious behaviour of the supposedly sanctified Christians who deploy intolerance and hate on an almost industrial scale.

It motivates and inspires vast numbers of people to just walk away and become “nones”.

Atheism sincerely thanks the Christian Right for their service.

Further Insights

Over 788 alumni signed an open letter protesting all of this.

The collage responded, but did not address the issue in any meaningful manner, but instead ducked and claimed, you don’t have all the facts. The rather embarrassing reality is that we do have all the facts.

The two staffers who were fired lay it all out in a 50 min YouTube video …

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