Montana State University Settles With Student Over Pronoun Dispute

Another pronoun case has come to a successful end for a challenger. We previously discussed a settlement with a Shawnee State professor over a pronoun dispute. We also discussed similar cases filed in Ohio, Utah, and other states over “misgendering.” Now Montana State University student Daria Danley has agreed to a settlement with the university after lengthy litigation. However, the position of MSU remains unclear on how it will police pronoun offenders in the future.

Danley is an Alpha Gamma Delta member who was found to have violated her sorority’s pronoun rule and a “no contact” order was issued in September 2021 by the university.  The order prevented her from attending events or even entering a building where a LGBTQ sorority student was present.

Danley sued MSU, its president and director of the Office of Institutional Equity, along with the commissioner of higher education.

While Danley’s counsel claimed victory in the settlement, MSU insisted that it merely

“accepted this settlement as a conciliatory mechanism to best serve the interests of our students. Rather than engaging in protracted litigation and a public debate of this matter, we have taken steps to allow the involved students to return to the privacy of their normal lives and to focus on their education.”

That leaves some doubt as to what is being settled. The university was referring to settling the matter with “the involved students” but not that it was ending its no-contact orders or pronoun sanctions. The uncertainly over that position is curious since, in 2017, MSU had to pay a $120,000 settlement with then-student Erik Powell after he was suspended for criticizing a transgender student to a professor in a private meeting.

MSU elected to litigate this case for a couple years at a cost to both itself and the student. Yet, it is not clear if it is making any changes in its pronoun policies for other students or staff.

Across the country, universities are ramping up misgendering rules for faculty and students. The most recent is Point Park University in Pittsburgh, which notified students that its Office of Equity and Inclusion will enforce rules against misgendering, pronoun misuse and deadnaming for individuals who do not use their classmates’ preferred pronouns. The university sent an email to students that states “any individual who has been informed of another person’s gender identity, pronouns, or chosen name is expected to respect that individual.” Students were informed that using the wrong pronoun was a violation and “action could be taken.”

Many have no objection to using a student’s preferred pronouns. Indeed, many faculty members try to avoid using pronouns altogether in class, rather than look up a student’s designated pronoun. Confirming the right pronouns can be challenging in the middle of a fast-moving class. Students today identify from a growing list of gender identities including, but not limited to, genderfluid, third-gender, amalgagender, demigender, bi-gender, pansgender, and a-gender. Pronouns can include, but are not limited to: He/She, They/Them, Ze/Hir (Ze, hir, hir, hirs, hirself), Ze/Zir (Ze, zir, zir, zirs, ze), Spivak (Ey, em, eir, eirs, ey), Ve (Ve, ver, vis, vis, verself), and Xe (Xe, xem, xyr, xyrs, xe).

Pronouns are fast fading from common discourse under the threat of pronoun penalties. Cities, too, are enforcing misgendering rules; for example, the New York City Human Rights Law allows for fines if employers, landlords or professionals fail to use a preferred name, pronoun or title.

Yet some people have religious beliefs against following the new order and using such pronouns. As a result, there are serious free-speech and religious-freedom objections to mandatory usage rules.

56 thoughts on “Montana State University Settles With Student Over Pronoun Dispute”

  1. Maybe one of our morally superior s@@tlibs can provide an answer to the following:

    Why can I “change” my gender by an act of the will but cannot “change” my ethnicity or race (i.e. Rachel Dolezal).


  2. Gender (i.e. sex-correlated attributes), including: sexual orientation: male and masculine, female and feminine. Through conflation of sex and gender, of baby and fetus, of life and death, of science and cargo, of probable and plausible, there has been social progress and redistributive change.

  3. I will be glad to use “she/her” pronouns if it will put me in the same shower, dressing or bedroom with Taylor Swift or Jennifer Lawrence.

    Where do I sign up?

    And if you question my “femininity”, I’ll call you a bigot and doxx you.

    Pronouns: she/her

    1. I think in the cases of Taylor Swift or Jennifer Lawrence the proper question to ask is, “Top or Bottom?”

  4. How do you punish someone from saying something when there is NO objective evidence of the net negative impact of doing so.

    That that doesn’t kill me makes me a withering wu$$y nowadays, I suppose.

    That guy called me a man simply because I have a beard, I’m done for….

  5. Here institutions are worrying about “policing pronoun use” (just wrap your head around that phrase, if you can) while Xi is preparing a world for us where survival, not proper “gendering,” will be a key skill. Eden, Cartland, MacMillan, Churchill, and their fellow anti-appeasement rebels are calling to us from the past. No one is listening and we don’t have brave politicians who challenge their party’s insane agenda. What we do have is a complicit media that do the ruling regime’s bidding. But I digress…

  6. The question remains as to what it will be required of the estimated 92.9% of the nation’s population who do NOT identify with the ‘alphabet people’ to take back their culture and stop the tail from wagging the dog.

  7. Dear Prof He/She, They/Them, Ze/Hir (Ze, hir, hir, hirs, hirself), Ze/Zir (Ze, zir, zir, zirs, ze), Spivak (Ey, em, eir, eirs, ey), Ve (Ve, ver, vis, vis, verself), and Xe (Xe, xem, xyr, xyrs, xe) TURLEY,

    It’s been a while since I’ve been on a college campus ~> what the hell are you talking about/?

    *people call me dgsnowden .. . if I’m lucky.

    1. @Snowfellow,
      (see I didn’t call you dgsnowden 😛 )

      The issue is this… on campus and in Canada and some American cities… you can be fined for not using the correct pronoun because it may trigger the person and would be viewed as an intentional hate crime. Such petite fleurs. Oh so fragile.

      If students don’t like a professor, they can use this to get rid of them. They can use this to blackmail them into giving them better grades.

      The issue though is that you have 1st amendment rights that may not be consistent w a protected class.
      Those in the protected class need to get a thicker skin.

      1. Ian Michael Gumby: And it gets even more insane when we ask the logical question: Just what are these people “protected” from? Pronoun misuse? Funny glances? Meanwhile, if you’re walking in the streets of certain cities, you’d better carry your own protection because no one seems to care about protecting citizens from criminals (in fact, most of those criminals belong to a “protected” class). You can’t make this sh*t up.

        1. @GioCon,

          I live in Chicago, I know about safe/unsafe neighborhoods.

          And yes, that’s the point. Hurt feelings or being triggered over an imagined slight.
          The catering to the less than 1% of the population (Trans) Going out of the way.

      2. In no American cities can you be fined for not using a person’s preferred pronouns, unless (1) you are doing it on purpose with the clear intention of harassing them; and (2) they are your employees, your tenants, or your customers in a public accommodation that you run.

  8. I’m confused. How are these pronouns ‘your’ pronouns? When I choose to speak, I choose my words. All of them: nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and even coordinating conjunctions. I decide what words I use, not you. Now of course you can choose ‘your’ pronouns when you talk about ‘zeself.’ Free speech for both of us! In short, and not to be confrontational lest I trigger the timorous mob: my free speech rights trump your narcissistic preoccupations.

    1. I agree. I own the words I use. I am responsible for the ideas I am expressing. You can agree with me, disagree with me, argue with me or hate me. The one thing you can not do is stop me. At least not yet you can’t.

  9. Seems to me there is a simple solution using Velcro. All those enrolling in a university be given a class jacket and should have a velcro strip over both the left upper chest and another velcro strip over the right upper chest. The gender designation for the day should be on another strip that is stuck to the left chest Velcro, and the proper name of the day should be on a strip that is adhered to the right chest Velcro strip. All should be large enough to be read with minimal use of glasses. Problem solved and harmony returns to the college campus. Sic.
    As for discussion in class we obviously need the “7 dirty words” that George Carlin made so famous but, of course, with different words. THE WORDS THAT SHALL NOT BE SPOKEN.
    As far as the Human Rights Law of New York, there seems to be such an outmigration of people that there may be no people there to even not say the words. This is also likely a reason for the outmigration of police from New York City. You have a revolving door of criminals arrested, released and then offending again and the police simply can’t keep up with all the extraneous gender and other descriptions anymore.
    Yes, I remember the Cultural Revolution where a population went mad. I agree it could be the same here but so far there is increasing resistance to the insanity. The issue is in doubt, however.

  10. Cities, too, are enforcing misgendering rules; for example, the New York City Human Rights Law allows for fines if employers, landlords or professionals fail to use a preferred name, pronoun or title.

    A void-for-vagueness challenge to such laws might succeed. If persons of ordinary intelligence must guess at what conduct is prohibited, the law violates the due process clause. See Connally v. General Construction Co., 269 U.S. 385 (1926). Here, the prohibited conduct depends on another person’s own concept of him or herself and his or her name or pronoun . . . so in many cases there is no way for a person of ordinary intelligence to know beforehand what conduct is prohibited.

    Under the First Amendment a facial challenge can be lodged to such a law, one does not have to wait for an as-applied challenge. So it is no defense of the law to say it will only be enforced after the defendant is told such information.

    1. Nope. You can only be fined if you are clearly doing it on purpose in order to harass your employee or tenant. And the fact is the law everywhere is that you can be fined for deliberately harassing your employee or tenant; NY just gives a specific example of the general rule. The same actually applies to deliberately and repeatedly calling anyone any name that you know, because they have repeatedly told you, they don’t like to be called; it’s harassment.

  11. @Lily4Liberty
    I am a survivor of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Here are some of his revolution features and tactics. You can judge yourself if these look similar with today’s American woke cultural revolution.

    1. Mao started Cultural Revolution to purge his political enemies and become a “Supreme Leader” to control entire China.

    2. His campaign slogan: Destroy the “Four Olds”
    — Traditional Ideas, Culture, Habits, and Customs

    3. Arbitrary Division of society by using “Critical Class Theory” and identity politics by dividing people into:
    Oppressors – The Five “Black Classes”
    Oppressed – The Five “Red Classes”

    4. Quasi-religious indoctrination of urban youth “Red Guards”, shut down schools for years for them to do class struggles full time, promote division, hatred, envy and equity.

    5. Toppling down statues, putting big posters and spray paintings on the walls, riots, looting, violence, law enforcement told to stand-down.

    6. Change school or street names, change words & definitions, censor words, burn relics, temples and churches, demonize all the religions as cults, promote communism as the sole ideology, Mao as a God-like leader.

    7. Struggle sessions, public shaming and denouncing, self-criticizing, apologizing, thought reform re-education camps for the “Black Classes”.

    8. Guilty at birth, by relationship, by association, past words/deeds, lose jobs if you don’t comply, silence is violence.

    9. Family and neighbors turn on each other, children were told parents are not dearer than Mao, urge teens to change last names to cut ties with their Black Class families to show loyalty to the “revolution”.

    10. Redefine social norms, promote unisex gender-less society, girls dress like boys & soldiers, create confusion & social chaos, banned dating in schools.

    11. Press & media were controlled by CCP & used for propaganda daily, cancel individual merits, silence dissident voices from all professions, ban books, songs, music, art and comedies that are not PC.

    12. Using mob tactics of fear, intimidation, torture and violence, no rule of law, 20M died, many committed suicide including intellectuals and party officials who supported the regime.

    Hope you understand why immigrants like me, and many others are very concerned today about America. We want to give our warnings until we stop the destruction of the country we love.

  12. “[H]e was suspended for criticizing a transgender student to a professor in a private meeting” (JT)

    Here we see the motivation behind that revolting “transgender” activism. It’s an attempt to chill opposing opinions, with the ever-present threat of punishment for dissent.

  13. Very glad to see Daria Danley settle her case however Montana State University sure seems to be trying to eek out a win with this matter nonetheless. All of these misgendering rules and “no contact” orders almost seem to be the precursor to criminalizing free speech in America, sort of along the same lines as the concerted effort to criminalize self-defense in America. The poisonous gas of Leninism is wafting over colleges & universities all across the country. Another invented crisis with lots of temper tantrums. An essential part of the Build Back Better agenda I guess. Thank you, Jonathan, for an excellent article.

    1. “I’d go to jail . . .”

      Before that, you will be afforded due process. A local DEI officer will hear your complaint.

    2. I’m with you. The purpose of language is to add clarity to help us better understand the world.

      There are males. There are females. Yes, there are a tiny few hermaphrodites. But for the average person to understand and navigate the world there are only two genders, male and female.

      I’m willing to add descriptors. There are “feminized” males and “masculine” females. Those descriptors add clarity. They help us better understand the world. Transgender does not provide clarity to the world. It does the opposite. It accommodates deception. It creates legitimacy for someone who is seeking to trick the rest of society into believing they are the opposite of their biological sex.

      I’ll happily call anyone by their preferred name, nickname, whatever. But I’m not going to use a female pronoun for a male. That is a lie.

      And I’m sure as hell not going to use any of those other fake, made up “pronouns”.

  14. There’s a freaking army of pronoun wielding psychological snowflakes and their pronoun social justice anti-normal anti-status quo social justice police that are trying to ram their world view down the throats of society and intimidate others into conforming to their view of the world that they are “normal” when in fact they are not normal. Well I’m here to say that they’re the ones that are abnormal and irrational and I will not kowtow to their irrational world view. These abnormal and irrational snowflaking totalitarians can bite me.

  15. Students today identify from a growing list of gender identities including, but not limited to, genderfluid, third-gender, amalgagender, demigender, bi-gender, pansgender, and a-gender.

    Sounds like a Babylon Bee story.

      1. As one child of a defector from behind the Iron Curtain who has grown up in America said to me recently, “pronouns won’t matter when they have to fight for survival.”

        1. Mary, that is something too many born in America don’t understand. My wife is one of those and when we had an accident and had to have air transport back from eastern Europe to an American hospital my wife requested that the stretcher be lowered to the ground to touch before taking her off the tarmac.

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