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University responds after employees claimed they were fired for including their pronouns in emails

Katherine Sidnell

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| Last updated 

University responds after employees claimed they were fired for including their pronouns in emails

Featured Image Credit: Facebook/Houghton University/YouTube/Bob Zoe

A university has responded after two former employees claimed they were fired for including their pronouns on their email signatures.

While most employers would welcome the inclusive gesture, Raegan Zelaya and Shua Wilmot allege that it led to them being ousted from their jobs at Houghton University.

Amid the controversy, the university has insisted that they had been removing ‘anything extraneous’ from email signatures and that's not the reason they let Zelaya and Wilmot go.

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The ex-employees made a lengthy post on YouTube about the incident. Credit: YouTube/@MalcolmSmith
The ex-employees made a lengthy post on YouTube about the incident. Credit: YouTube/@MalcolmSmith

Raegan Zelaya and Shua Wilmot made the claim in a lengthy YouTube video, entitled ‘Stand by Your Values’ with the former area coordinators discussing the incident.

In fact, ex-employees even read alleged termination letters after using ‘she/her’ and ‘he/him’ in their respective emails.

Zelaya read the letter, quoting: “…as a result of your refusal to remove pronouns in your email signature.”

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The employees then revealed their reasons for including pronouns, which ranged from them accidentally being ‘misgendered’ because of their gender-neutral names and due it being an ‘industry standard'.

Wilmot also revealed that including pronouns had led to important conversations about inclusivity at the conservative Christian university.

He said in the YouTube video: “As an educator, especially at a place where many people don’t know a lot about gender and sex, I think that it’s a great conversation starter to have my pronouns in my signature.

“I’ve had some great conversations with great students…as a result of having my pronouns in my signature."

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Wilmot later addressed why he included the pronouns in the video. Credit: YouTube/@Malcolm Smith
Wilmot later addressed why he included the pronouns in the video. Credit: YouTube/@Malcolm Smith

Despite this, Houghton University has hit back at claims the former employees were fired over this.

“Over the past years, we’ve required anything extraneous be removed from email signatures, including Scripture quotes,” a spokesperson told The New York Times.

It added that the university 'has never terminated an employment relationship based solely on the use of pronouns in staff email signatures'.

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The conservative Christian institute is linked to the Wesleyan Church, which teach that any form of non-traditional gender is sinful – according to the New York Times.

On the church’s website, it discusses gender identify saying: “Gender confusion and dysphoria are ultimately the biological, psychological, social and spiritual consequences of the human race’s fallen condition.

“We regard adult gender nonconformity as a violation of the sanctity of human life."

Houghton has hit back at the claims. Credit: YouTube/@Malcolm Smith
Houghton has hit back at the claims. Credit: YouTube/@Malcolm Smith
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While Houghton’s president Wayne D Lewis Jr has not spoken about the firings, earlier this month he wrote an open letter about the closure of the multi-cultural centre on campus two years ago.

It read: “Houghton unapologetically privileges an orthodox Christian worldview, rooted in the Wesleyan theological tradition.

"At the time of their appointment and again annually, every Houghton employee affirms his or her understanding of and agreement to these commitments.”

UNILAD has contacted Houghton University for comment.

Topics: News, Education, US News

Katherine Sidnell
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