‘Unethical and reprehensible’ method used by professor to teach transgender issues

‘Unethical and reprehensible’ method used by professor to teach transgender issues
Students are calling for a SUNY Geneseo professor to be fired after a quiz about transgender issues angered some students. (Image source: Jasmine Cui's Twitter account screenshot)

A SUNY Geneseo professor attempted to inject some humor into his sociology lesson about gender issues with a couple of jokes about transgender people that angered students.

More than 50 students signed a letter sent to Geneseo administration expressing outrage about comments by adjunct professor David Sorbello last week, and now the school is investigating whether discipline is necessary.

The comments

Jasmine Cui, a Geneseo student and also a student senator, tweeted out a picture of a slide labeled “FEMALE or SHEMALE can you tell?”

The title was followed by several photos for students to identify.

The title of the quiz may have been a play on a segment by the same name from the show “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (the segment was cancelled in 2014 because viewers found the term “shemale” offensive).

The letter sent to administration claims Sorbello also made a joke telling students not to get intoxicated because it “could result in them going home with an individual who is transgender.”

Sorbello allegedly said the exercise was for humor in the lesson about sexual dimorphism, an explanation that brought no comfort to the upset students.

Students demand punishment

A letter asking Geneseo administration to address the issue was sent shortly after the picture of the quiz circulated on the internet.

“[The students] find the manner in which he taught to be unethical and reprehensible — there are other, more appropriate ways of teaching this topic,” the letter read.

A petition on the Geneseo website demanding Sorbello be fired has more than 200 signatures.

Both the petition and a tweet by Cui with a screenshot of an email from Sorbello indicate that Sorbello has banned any use of electronic devices in his classroom.

Here’s what the petition, titled “Immediate Dismissal for David Sorbello” says:

“This past week a Sociology professor named David Sorbello presented this (image below)  to a Intro to Sociology class while speaking about transgender women/transgender individuals. Not only did he show a disgusting, transphobic, and inappropriate website “Shemale or Female” but he was also said to say “so this is a lesson to you all not to get to drunk or you might take the wrong one home”.  Both of these actions are terrible and he should be held accountable for what he has done. Instead of apologizing to his students, he chose to instead take away any future lectures being posted online and to ban all electronic devices in his classroom. His reaction is neither acceptable or appropriate for a person of his level of education and status within the college. I personally feel that it would be a mistake for SUNY Geneseo to keep this professor for employment in the future.”

The university responds

Geneseo President Denise Battles issued a statement Friday.

“We are taking the matter very seriously and are gathering the facts to determine if and what action is warranted. The classroom is an environment in which students and faculty can and should discuss challenging topics and ideas, which makes it all the more important that we gather and fully review the facts in the case. 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.”

(H/T Democrat & Chronicle)

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