Part of the EmoryLife Network. Sponsored by the Student Government Association.
EMORYStudent Organizations and Divisional Councils
Submitted On: February 14, 2015Assigned To: UnassignedLegislature: passedVote: 26-0-0Executive: signed
Bill 48sl18, "Amendment to Remove Language Enforcing a Gender Binary from the Student Constitution," Submitted by President Jon Darby, Executive Vice President Raj Tilwa, Campus Services Chair and Sophomore Representative Max Zoberman.
the Student Constitution protects student rights, outlines the structure and function of the Student Government Association, and establishes rules for all students, governing bodies, and student organizations at Emory; and,
gender is widely accepted in the academic community as a social construction separate from biological sex (Lorber 1994, West and Zimmerman 1987); and,
the singular "they" is a linguistically equivalent alternative to the prescriptive he [he/she] (Bodine 1975, Mackay 1980) and is increasingly thought of as grammatically correct; and,
Facebook, one of the most widely utilized social networking websites, has adopted "they/their" as a gender-inclusive pronoun choice for users to select in addition to allowing users to self-define a gender (Facebook Diversity 2014); and,
a document as significant as the Student Constitution should not adhere to social constructions such as a gender binary when widely accepted, inclusive alternatives are available; and,
replacing instances of "his or her" with "their" and replacing instances of "he or she" with "they" will create a more inclusive Student Constitution and ensure that communities are not alienated by the highest Student Governing Document without sacrificing clarity or compromising the integrity of the document.
Therefore, be it enacted by the 48th Student Legislature of Emory University that if approved by two-thirds (2/3) of the Legislature or twenty-six (26) votes, whichever is greater, and approved by a simple majority of the students voting in a campus referendum, every instance of “his or her” in the Student Constitution of Emory University be replaced with “their” and every instance of “he or she” in the Student Constitution be replaced with “they”, in an effort to remove a gender-binary from governing documents of the Student Government Association and utilize gender-inclusive language..



Bodine, A. (1975). Androcentrism in prescriptive grammar: Singular 'they,' sex-indefinite 'he,' and 'he or she.' Lang. Soc.429-46.

Facebook Diversity. Facebook. February 13, 2014.

Lorber, Judith. 1994. "'Night to His Day': The Social Construction of Gender." Pp. 3-15, 17-27 in Paradoxes of Gender, by Judith Lorber. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Mackay, Donald G. "On the Goals, Principles, and Procedures for Prescriptive Grammar: Singular They." Language in Society 9.03 (1980): 353. Web.

West, Candace and Don H. Zimmerman. 1987. "Doing Gender." Gender & Society 1(2): 125-51.

Leave a Comment