- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The State Department made it a point Wednesday to recognize International Pronouns Day, much to the frustration of Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican.

Mr. Rubio had some choice observations after the State Department tweeted Wednesday about pronoun awareness and linked to a recent Bureau of Global Affairs post entitled, “Why do so many Americans list pronouns on social media profiles?”

“This is what the people in charge of our [nation’s] foreign policy are working on today,” he tweeted.

Mr. Rubio wasn’t the only one rankled. Other comments included “I’m sure our adversaries are checking our pronouns before they nuke us,” “The intern was proud of this one,” and “Is this a joke?”

“We have Americans still trapped behind enemy lines and you are displaying our military might by tweeting this bizarre message of multiple genders and sexuality? This cannot be our reality,” tweeted the blue-check account Code of Vets.

The State Department touched off the pushback by tweeting Wednesday: “Today on International Pronouns Day, we share why many people list pronouns on their email and social media profiles,” and linked to a July 1 post on the federal government’s Share America website.

“Many Americans are including their pronouns on social media profiles or name tags or as part of email signatures. They state them in meetings, whether online or in person, and at other venues,” said the post.

The website cited Shige Sakurai, University of Maryland acting director of the LGBTQ+ Equity Center and founder of International Pronouns Day.

“They see sharing pronouns as a way of getting to know someone,” said the State Department post. “Knowing and using someone’s pronouns avoids accidentally assuming an incorrect gender based on a name or an appearance.”

What the department failed to mention is that using the wrong pronouns can also get you fired.

For example, former French teacher Peter Vlaming filed a lawsuit in 2018 against West Point Public Schools in Virginia accusing the district of dismissing him for refusing to refer to a female-born student as “he” and “him.”

“I’m trying to protect their freedoms as much as my freedoms — the freedom of conscience, the freedom of speech, the freedom to hold your own convictions,” Mr. Vlaming told the Daily Signal in a Sept. 29 interview.

The Share America post made no reference to the debate, saying that “American society is showing acceptance of the trend.”

“Nearly 1 in 5 U.S. adults knows someone who goes by gender-neutral pronouns, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center,” said the post.

The Share America post noted that the White House debuted this year “a contact form with gender-neutral pronouns and the nonbinary prefix ‘Mx.’”

“And the Department of State announced June 30 that U.S. passport forms will allow applicants to choose male or female gender, regardless of what their other documents indicate, and will eventually include an option for nonbinary, intersex and gender-nonconforming people,” said the website.

A member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mr. Rubio has previously sounded the alarm on an America distracted by infighting in the face of threats from a rising China, saying “we have placed ourselves on the road of decline.”

“While China is pursuing economic and technological dominance, we find ourselves here busy canceling people and demanding the use of the right pronouns to describe people, or claiming that requiring photo ID to vote is a return to the Jim Crow era,” Mr. Rubio said in a May speech on the Senate floor.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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