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Calls For Professor To Be Fired After Forcing Students To Take ‘Female Or Shemale’ Quiz

College students in upstate New York are calling for a professor to be fired after an offensive, transphobic quiz was given in class.

State University of New York College at Geneseo (“SUNY Geneseo”) Professor David Sorbello recently gave a quiz titled, “Female or Shemale: Can You Tell?” wherein students were asked to separate women who born biologically female (cis women) from women who have transitioned to female after being born biologically male (trans women.)

The subject matter and title of the quiz alone were enough to upset some students, but Sorbello’s alleged comments during and after the quiz didn’t quite endear him to students either.

Jillian Sternberg is a sophomore in Sorbello’s introduction to sociology class. She described Sorbello’s comments during the quiz in an interview with Buzzfeed News:

He said something along the lines of, ‘Be careful not to get too drunk or you’ll take the wrong one home,’ He would comment on some of the pictures like, ‘I’m definitely not going to the bar with you.’

Sternberg also said she and another student confronted Sorbello after the quiz in order to register their discomfort and concern–and to try and figure out exactly what the point of the quiz actually was. Sternberg said, “[Sorbello] never said what the point of the quiz was during the class, but when I addressed him afterward he said it was partly for humor and partly to discuss sexual dimorphism.”

And rather than take their concerns to heart, Sorbello was apparently angry at being approached by his students. According to Sternberg, “He was very mad that we were calling him out.” Sternberg also said that class discussion during the day in question had nothing to do with sexual dimorphism.

In response to the social media uproar, SUNY Geneseo President Denise A. Battles released a statement, which reads, in part:

A situation that took place in a sociology classroom earlier this week has been brought to my attention and I felt the need to communicate to you about it, particularly as it pertains to our value of inclusivity. A professor is reported to have presented materials and made comments about which some students have expressed concern. We are taking the matter very seriously and are gathering the facts to determine if and what action is warranted.

In the aftermath of the offensive quiz and resulting media attention, a few distinct lines have been drawn. SUNY Geneseo’s History Department issued a terse statement supporting the students who have made an issue out of Sorbello’s quiz. Via Twitter, they said:

Some SUNY Geneseo alumni have also weighed in with support for the students and against Sorbello’s apparent casual transphobia.

Stephanie Kaylor, now a managing editor for FIVE:2:ONE Magazine tweeted:

One of the SUNY Geneseo students who has been instrumental in bringing attention to the quiz and Sorbello’s commentary is political science major Jasmine Cui. In response to allegations that the students are waging a “witch hunt” against a professor, she said, “[Sorbello] has a history of using POC & women as punchlines. This is not a first offense.”

Sorbello hasn’t spoken publicly about the incident since it occurred. But he has responded–in a sense. After students complained about the quiz, Sorbello changed the course syllabus to ban all electronic recording devices in his classroom.

[image used with permission]

Follow Colin Kalmbacher on Twitter: @colinkalmbacher

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