A school at Harvard University has announced that they will allow students to identify with nontraditional gender pronouns like "hir" and "ze."
Harvard's faculty of arts and sciences' registration tool has expanded the number of pronouns students can use to identify as "transgender." They can state a preference for "ze, hir, hirs" or "they, them, theirs."
FAS Registrar Michael P. Burke told the campus publication The Crimson earlier this week that the change had been considered for years.
"[It's intended to] make students feel more comfortable with their gender identity," said Burke, whose offices worked with LGBT campus groups to implement the change.
"It's important when you are writing emails or referring a student to another person in the college, you want to do it the right way."
Harvard is not the only public academic institution that is altering its approach to gender identification to accommodate non-traditional labels.
"The move comes at a time of increased awareness of transgender Americans, with Ohio State University for the first time offering housing for transgender freshman beginning this year," reported Reuters, which noted that Harvard's actions resembled those taken by the University of Tennessee.
"… [A] newsletter from the [UT's] Office of Diversity and Inclusion suggested that professors asked students what pronoun they preferred and noted that 'ze,' 'zir' and 'zirs' was an option, [but it] drew harsh criticism."
UT's Pride Center Director Donna Braquet advised that members of the university community should begin using gender neutral pronouns such as "ze," "hir," "hirs," "zir," zirs," "xem," and "xyr" to replace standard gender binary pronouns like "he," "she," "his," "her" and "hers."
According to Braquet, the purpose behind using gender neutral pronouns is to create a campus environment that is "welcoming and inclusive for all," as the fall semester started in August.
Regarding the UT decision on gender identification, outspoken evangelical leader the Rev. Franklin Graham took issue with the proposal.
Graham, who heads Samaritans' Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, said in a Facebook post last month that such actions were "ridiculous."
"Think of the money and positions being wasted by this office. God created male and female — you don't have to have a college degree to understand that," wrote Graham.
"We're seeing this kind of thing more and more across the country as the secularists and progressives are pushing their godless agenda into our education system and corporate America."