The University of Toronto has caved to students’ demands and told a professor who openly refused to use “correct gender pronouns” that he needs to refer to students as they wish.
Jordan Peterson, a psychology professor, received a letter from the university that demanded he address students by whatever pronoun they want—not just ‘he’ or ‘she’—and stop making public statements on the topic.
The letter, signed jointly by arts and science dean David Cameron and faculty and academic life vice-provost Sioban Nelson, claimed the university is committed to free speech but that right has limits.
“Your statements that you will refuse to refer to transgendered persons using gender neutral pronouns if they ask you to do so are contrary to the rights of those persons to equal treatment without discrimination based on their ‘gender identity’ and gender expression.’
“We trust that these impacts on students and others were not your intention in making these remarks,” the letter says. “However, in view of these impacts, as well as the requirements of the Ontario Human Rights Code, we urge you to stop repeating these statements,” the letter said.
Peterson told the Toronto Sun that he’s “not happy” and “disappointed” with the decision, adding: “They had to make their decision whether they were going to make a stand for free speech or whether they were going to censor me and they’ve decided.”
“But it doesn’t surprise me because it is the fact that such things are happening that was the motivation for me to make the damn videos to begin with,” he said.
The professor has been at the epicenter of the controversy after it was revealed that he criticized political correctness and attacked a Canadian government bill criminalizing “transphobic” speech in a series of educational YouTube videos.
In one of the videos, he’s heard saying “I don’t recognize another person’s right to determine what pronouns I use to address them. I won’t do it.”
So, Bill C-16 marches closer to law. Watch your mouth citizens: you must now use gov't-approved words. You just don't know it yet. https://t.co/kzKDnb3KMP
— Jordan B Peterson (@jordanbpeterson) October 19, 2016
His comments sparked outrage on the university’s campus, leading to numerous rallies both for and against his position. Some students called for censorship of the professor.
Libertarian activist Lauren Southern covered one of the rallies a week ago, only to be grabbed and yanked into a crowd by a person of unclear gender identity.
Peterson maintains his opposition to the bill outlawing “transphobic” speech, and said: “These laws are the first laws that I’ve seen that require people under the threat of legal punishment to employ certain words, to speak a certain way, instead of merely limiting what they’re allowed to say.”
“So the law’s put words into our mouths,” he added.
A spokesperson for the University of Toronto said the professor has a right to express his opinions, but “we expect all members of our community, including Prof. Peterson, to foster a learning environment that’s free from discrimination and harassment.”