Administrators have made the library at the University of Kansas the center of several recent diversity initiatives, particularly an effort to make transgender students feel more comfortable on campus.
One of the initiatives is encouraging students to identify their gender pronouns when introducing themselves to others. Employees at the library were invited to wear buttons with nametags that displayed their chosen gender pronoun in an effort to make non-binary conforming students more comfortable on campus.
Several posters throughout the library remind students that wearing a nametag with your gender pronoun is a way to lessen the likelihood that a transgender student would be misgendered on campus.
“[W]e encourage you to ask before assuming someone’s gender. Pronouns matter!” one poster reads. “Misgendering someone can have lasting consequences, and using the incorrect pronoun can be hurtful, disrespectful, and invalidate someone’s identity.”’
Kevin Smith, the Dean of Libraries at the University of Kansas, argues that diversity initiatives should be right at home in the library. He suggested that diversity and inclusion are “universal values of libraries.”
“A commitment to support the voices of marginalized people is part and parcel to the libraries’ commitment to the values of the First Amendment,” Smith explained.