Over the past several years there have been numerous instances on college campuses of speakers being shouted down, not allowed to give talks, or otherwise “deplatformed”. These incidents are then bandied about conservative or alternate media spaces as examples of the decline of Western universities. The latest incident involves Lindsay Shepherd. Shepherd, a 22-year-old graduate student and teaching assistant at Wilfred Laurier University, was called into the university’s Gendered Violence Prevention and Support office for a meeting with her supervising professor and two administrators.
Ms. Shepherd had shown a segment of a Canadian television show debating the use of gender pronouns. The video featured well-known University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson as one of the debaters. Peterson has been arguing that there are only two genders and he would not be forced to call someone by a gender pronoun other than he or she. A student in Ms. Shepherd’s class reported to her supervising professor that a toxic class climate for transgendered students had been created because of the video.