A college professor gave a quiz titled “Female or Shemale: Can You Tell?” — and yes, we’re serious

October 25, 2017

College is supposed to be a safe space, but unfortunately, institutions of higher education are often littered with racism, sexism, homophobia, and other hurtful biases against minority groups. Sadly, this is the case at SUNY Geneseo, which is under investigation after a professor made students take a quiz in which they had to guess if people in photos were “female or shemale.”

Jasmine Cui / twitter.com%2F%3Fp%3D2037535%26preview%3Dtrue%26preview_id%3D2037535

College is supposed to be a safe space, but unfortunately, institutions of higher education are often littered with racism, sexism, homophobia, and other hurtful biases against minority groups. Sadly, this is the case at SUNY Geneseo, which is under investigation after a professor made students take a quiz in which they had to guess if people in photos were “female or shemale.”

Professor David Sorbello made students identify the genders of people in photos, while making derogatory comments about the LGBTQIA+ community as he did so, according to student Jillian Sternberg. This would be wildly inappropriate and offensive in any setting, but it’s especially ironic and disturbing in an Intro to Sociology class.

The idea of a trans person needing to “pass” as their preferred gender helps to encourage transphobia; one’s gender expression doesn’t need to look like any one thing to be valid.

To assume that someone who is trans or non-binary has to look a certain way to have their identity affirmed is rude and harmful. Needless to say, the comments made by Sorbello are not okay at all. According to Sternberg, the professor paired the slides from the quiz with derogatory comments like, “Oh, I’m not going to the bar with you,’ and, “This is a lesson to you guys not to get too drunk or you might go home with the wrong one.”

Again, these misogynistic and transphobic comments should never leave anyone’s mouth — especially that of a teacher.

Although Sternberg approached Sorbello after class to talk to him about how this wasn’t okay, she says he was very defensive and passed his comments off as jokes. But students have taken power into their own hands and have started a petition to dismiss Sorbello. The president of the university has also offered a statement to explain that the administration is looking into the case, and it includes the following:

“As we review this situation, let me say unequivocally that SUNY Geneseo has a steadfast and uncompromising commitment to diversity and inclusivity. We work diligently to sustain an inviting and supportive environment for people of all gender identities, gender expressions, sexual orientations, races, religions and other identities.”

We hope that this issue gets sorted out and that justice is served. This sort of “teaching” isn’t okay by any means, and we hope that Sorbello truly recognizes the hurt he’s caused.

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