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Professor asks whether class can tell female and ‘she-male’ apart in quiz

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At an Intro to Sociology class this week, a sociology professor asked students to pick out trans women from a website he projected onto a screen. The title of said site was “Female or Shemale: Can you tell?”.

Students are now calling for the professor to be dismissed after a photo of the transphobic classroom slide was published in social media, according to Buzzfeed News.

University president Denise A. Battles has responded to the uproar, assuring that the school would look into the issue.

“A professor is reported to have presented materials and made comments about which some students have expressed concern,” Battles said in a statement Friday evening.

“We are taking the matter very seriously and are gathering the facts to determine if and what action is warranted.”

https://twitter.com/notamathlete/status/921388828279132161

According to Jillian Sternberg, the student who took the photo, the topic of the class held last Wednesday was gender, sexuality, and sexual identity. The professor, David Sorbello, had asked students to pick from the headshots those who were biologically born a female and those who were born as a trans woman.

Sternberg said students were disturbed by what Sorbello had to say about the quiz.

“He just said, ‘We want you to write whether it’s female or she-male,'” Sternberg said.

“He never said what the point of the quiz was during the class, but when I addressed him afterwards he said it was partly for humour and partly to discuss sexual dimorphism.”

Sternberg said the session did not contain any discussion about sexual dimorphism, or the physical, nonreproductive differences between males and females of the same species.

During the class, the professor also allegedly made other comments like “Be careful not to get too drunk or you’ll take the wrong one home” or “I’m definitely not going to the bar with you” while commenting on some of the pictures.

When Sternberg and a friend approached Sorbello after the class to say they were uncomfortable with the material, Sorbello allegedly said sorry they did not find it funny. According to him, humour was the only way he could approach the subject.

“He was very mad that we were calling him out,” Sternberg said, adding that she followed up with an email to apologise for the way they had approached him but maintained that the material was offensive. She has yet to receive a reply.

However, the professor did email the entire class to remind them that all electronic materials, including phones, laptops and photo-taking, are banned from his class, although he had previously allowed them to take photos of slides to use as for revision.

A petition has been created calling for Sorbello’s dismissal over his showing of the “disgusting, transphobic, and inappropriate website”.

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