Burlington City Council cracks down on gender pronoun use

By Guy Page

Following the resignation of a member of a Burlington Neighborhood Planning Assembly (NPA) over another member’s unwillingness to use preferred gender-related personal pronouns, the Burlington City Council Monday night approved a resolution to redraft NPA bylaws preventing ‘gender discrimination.’

Lee Morrigan is a biological female who identifies as non-binary. Jeff Comstock refuses to use assigned pronouns at the NPA meetings because he considers them an effort to impose an agenda on individuals and society at large. “I am determined not to let others ascribe my motivations to suit their agendas or let them redefine the language and require me to use it (a la 1984),” he told VDC today.

The NPAs are local advisory groups intended to increase citizen participation in civic matters. At a recent meeting of the Wards 4 & 7 (New North End) NPA steering committee, Morrigan and others tried at length to persuade fellow NPA member Jeff Comstock that it’s ‘disrespectful’ to refer to Morgan with female pronouns. When Comstock tried to explain that no disrespect is meant and that he has tried to use the name Lee rather than a pronoun, Morrigan claimed that’s still disrespectful because it’s avoiding the use of the preferred pronoun.

“I have a right to function as part of this steering committee, without having to, everytime we meet, make a choice: am I going to assert that I am not a woman, or am I going to acquiesce and be disrespected? No one here deserves that,” Morgan said. Morgan moved to Burlington after feeling unsafe in a previous city of residence. 

The culmination of the exchange, beginning at the 14 minute mark on the recording, is transcribed below, lightly edited for clarity and brevity:

Morrigan: So why won’t you use my pronouns? Can you explain?

Comstock: Some folks are trying to impose their personal agendas on others. One of the concepts that I think this entire gender identity issue is failing at is the recognition of the concept that your rights end where my nose begins. There is an awful lot of cultural and social imposition of some people’s agendas on others in our society.”

Morrigan: I have a responsibility to keep myself safe. So what I’m hearing is that you are not going to use my pronouns, correct?

Comstock: And how does that impact your safety?

Morrigan: I’ve been explaining this for the past 20 minutes on how this impacts my wellbeing. You’re not going to use my pronouns, correct?

Comstock: Correct.

Morrigan: So I resign and I will be explaining to my community why. It has been an honor to serve the NPA and I would really like to continue but [audible sniff] I have a responsibility to take care of myself and maybe I should have done this a year ago, but I’m not going to stay on a body that doesn’t respect me enough to give me the same things that you all get, that I don’t get here, so I resign.

[Lengthy silence]

Other member: I think we’re going to face legal action.

Comstock: Well. that’s on me, that’s not on you.

Monday night, the Burlington City Council approved a resolution clarifying what constitutes discrimination on the NPA level, establishes a complaint process, and creates a pathway for removing members who fail to comply. 

Categories: Burlington

43 replies »

  1. Kudos to Jeff Comstock for refusing to have his free speech compelled or constrained by a woman-child with a psychiatric disorder.

    • It’s not just free speach that these nuts are dallying with, it’s truths, and facts.

    • This seems to be an issue of psychology versus science.

      The science dictates there are two biological sexes. A skewed version of pop psychology wants us to believe, because a distinct minority of people believe, that gender does not follow the laws of science.

      Although popular and lucrative, it is not scientifically accurate.

      I thought it quite polite that Mr. Comstock was willing to use her name rather than her gender identity.

      I believe that is the appropriate response, for someone who does not wish to play into the pop psychology of the day.

  2. The demand to use the chosen pronouns that are outside of the lexicon of the King’s English are indeed compelled speech. Most people are ok with others having little fantasies about their identity or existence but it crosses the line when the person with the identity issues expects everyone else to play along with their fantasy. When everyone around them refuses to play along, they feign victimhood by claiming that they are being disrespected and that makes them “feel” unsafe. That paranoia is yet another manifestation of their frail psyche. The “feeling unsafe” thing then extends into the claim of it constituting a “microaggression”, which elevates the disrespect into the equivalent of a physical assault.
    I think the way to illustrate the absurdity of it all is for “normal”, binary people to also demand to be addressed at public meeting by THEIR preferred pronouns, and come up with a real doozie that you demand that everyone use when addressing you. As an example, I may demand that I identify as and everyone must refer to me as Napoleon Bonaparte…and anytime someone refuses to use that pronoun, that constitutes discrimination…

    • Rich, Thanks for your analysis in the first paragraph.
      As to your second paragraph, I’ve been thinking parallel thoughts. My pronoun of choice is “highly exalted one”. This tactic is merely pushing their thinking to its logical conclusion. If everyone did this it would soon be so cumbersome (as it is already becoming) that everyone would give up on it.

  3. Bigger issue, the city of Burlington is collapsing and the city council spends time energy and effort on this nonsense. It’s their comfort zone.

    • Making a big deal out of woke nonsense is their comfort zone, but mainly it is a distraction from the crime, violence and social decay affecting the entire city these days.

  4. Jeff, thanks for standing your ground when avoiding the chosen pronouns nonsense,
    fools ” they, them, and the other plural nonsense when one person wants to be identified as a non-binary, pathetic fool, and people follow this nonsense and this includes Lee Morrigan is a biological female with two X chromosomes (XX), so she
    is a female, like it or not she can dress up to look and act like a man, nope she’s a female…………………………………..

  5. This is all about virtue signaling and that garbage. Must not have gotten enough trophies for showing up when younger. So if this type of mentally ill person is assaulted by a man is it “rape” ???? They’re not a woman. So they say.

    The fascist on that board want to “make and example” out of non- compliance with forced /compelled speech. Me ,I would just have laughed at you , a deep hearty laugh.

    No, you are mentally ill and want attention and honestly you disgust me. Yes it is compelled speech. Next time we will all use “hey you” or better yet “hey s***head” ( notice no “gender”). Better yet just stay home. You are an embarrassment to wome-oops whatever you are.

    No you are not special and I know if in a situation where you are against a “man” you would fall and cower like most WOMEN do and claim that he hit a “woman”. Because you see, men take a punch and shake it off; you, based on your behavior, will just call the police and cry. You make me sick. BTW for all you haters .

    I am not phobic of anything, you really need to look up what that means because most people who are labeled so are not in fact afraid of any of you, we feel SORRY for you.
    As a black man who never has to tell anyone I am black or ask for respect, or not be called a N*****, I take immense umbridge with it’s behavior and comments. As an American we all have rights and yours do not TRUMP mine.

    • Thank you a black man that only wants to be observed as a human being and not feel he needs special attention.

    • So true! These neo-matxist revolutionaries invert language and definitions to suite the needs of their agenda. For example, the United Nations, main stream media and politicians calling Antifa antifascists, while calling Americans who do not want their historical statues torn down, the adoption of equity aka liberated socialism, young biological girls being forced to share locker rooms and bathrooms with biological boys, and to be forced to address people by their pronouns as haters, white nationalists, white supremacists, neo-nazis and extremists. All instances of nonconformance is labeled as hate speech by the UN, which trickles doen to the media.

      Media propagandists mirror back these United Nation’s terms and labels. The United Nations has redefined and implemented new global discrimination policies to achieve the sustainable development goal on Peace (I believe Goal 16). The media channels are all Environmental, Social and Governence (ESG) rated entities, which means they are scored on compliance with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The national media actually facilitated some of the 2030 DAVOS meeting sessions to include Time, CNN, MSNBC and others.

  6. Thank you Jeff Comstock for standing up against the Burlington Woke (aka Prog/Dem) Party that wants to compel and control speech. Let us know when you sue the bastards so that we can contribute to your effort.

  7. The issue is never the issue as Prof. James Lindsay says. Instead, there is an agenda to control others, inch by inch, step by step. Liberal fascism.

  8. I applaud and fully support Jeff Comstock for refusing to comply with the Burlington City Council’s belief that they have the right to force everyone to use preferred pronouns. More people, especially here in Vermont, NEED to stand up for their right to free speech to shut down this agenda.

    That Council really needs to read the US Constitution. The First Amendment is NOT a “suggestion”. They aer a city government entity and have NO legal right to compel speech, which is what they are attempting to do.

    It is absolutely asinine that Lee Morrigan can cite that others have no right to “. . . redefine the language and require me to use it. . . ” but that is EXACTLY what Lee Morrigan is demanding of Jeff Comstock! Lee Morrigan is imposing an agenda on everyone else to comply with a personal belief and a “feeling” which is not a reality to those of us who know how Biology works. There is no safety issue because someone won’t use the preferred pronoun of someone who is denying their own biology. How on earth that point is missed is absolutely mind boggling to me!

    “Lee Morrigan is a biological female who identifies as non-binary. Jeff Comstock refuses to use assigned pronouns at the NPA meetings because he considers them an effort to impose an agenda on individuals and society at large. “I am determined not to let others ascribe my motivations to suit their agendas or let them redefine the language and require me to use it (a la 1984),” he told VDC today.” . . .

    Morrigan: So why won’t you use my pronouns? Can you explain?

    Comstock: Some folks are trying to impose their personal agendas on others. One of the concepts that I think this entire gender identity issue is failing at is the recognition of the concept that your rights end where my nose begins. There is an awful lot of cultural and social imposition of some people’s agendas on others in our society.”

    I am including excerpts from the following article, along with link to the full article, for those who want to read it in its entirety.

    The Dangers of Compelled Speech
    What is compelled speech? What has the Supreme Court said about it? And how does it affect me?

    Written by Neal Hardin
    Published October 31, 2022
    Revised August 22, 2023

    “The First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech protects us from censorship of what we want to say, but we don’t often think about how the First Amendment also protects us from being compelled to say something we don’t want to say.

    Today, many situations are raising the question of government-compelled speech: should teachers and professors be compelled to use pronouns contrary to someone’s biology and affirm views about human nature, reality, and gender identity that contradict their beliefs? Should artists be compelled to create art that violates their deeply held convictions? Should pro-life hospitals, doctors, or pregnancy centers be forced to advertise for abortion? Although these situations look very different on the surface, what they have in common is compelled speech.

    Alliance Defending Freedom has litigated or supported numerous cases, including several at the Supreme Court, taking on compelled speech. And thankfully, the Court has affirmed multiple times that compelled speech is unconstitutional.

    Compelling people to speak messages against their most deeply held beliefs undermines the common good. A free society depends on ordinary citizens having the freedom of belief as well as the freedom to choose what you say and what you don’t say.

    What is compelled speech?
    Compelled speech occurs when the government forces you to articulate, advocate, promote, communicate, or otherwise express messages or beliefs you do not want to. In other words, compelled speech occurs when the government threatens or punishes you for not speaking.

    Compelled speech violates the freedom of conscience
    Compelled speech requires someone to say something that they do not want to say. Not only is this a violation of an individual’s right to free speech; it is also a violation of their right to act according to their own conscience.

    What we say—and what we don’t say—reflects who we are and what we think and believe. When government compels people to say things against their will—including through their art—it is an affront to their dignity. The Framers of our Constitution put in place protections like those in the First Amendment to preserve our right to live out our deepest beliefs.

    The Supreme Court and compelled speech
    Throughout our nation’s history, we have been forced to ask the question, “Can the government compel someone to say something they don’t want to say?” With few exceptions, the Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment protects a person’s ability to not speak messages they disagree with. . . .

    How does compelled speech affect me?
    There are many areas of life where questions of compelled speech are coming to the surface. And ADF is taking a stand to ensure that all Americans have the right to speak (or not speak) freely.

    Preferred pronouns
    One recent manifestation of compelled speech has been the mandatory use of pronouns contrary to someone’s biological sex, especially in education. Public school boards and universities are increasingly adopting policies that force teachers, professors, other education officials, and even students to use pronouns that are inconsistent with the student’s sex if the student requests this—even if this violates the speaker’s deeply held religious or personal convictions about the nature of gender and sexuality.

    Peter Vlaming, a high school teacher in Virginia, was fired because he declined to use male pronouns for a female student. ADF represented him at the Virginia Supreme Court in November 2022.

    Another teacher, Tanner Cross, was suspended from his job after voicing his opposition to a pronoun policy at a Loudoun County School Board meeting. ADF represented Tanner, and the Virginia Supreme Court vindicated his right to voice his concerns. Now, two additional teachers (Monica Gill and Kim Wright) have joined Tanner to fight the school board’s unconstitutional pronoun policy.

    Compelled speech has shown up in higher education, as well.

    In 2021, ADF secured a victory at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit for Dr. Nicholas Meriwether, a philosophy professor at Shawnee State University in Ohio. He had been charged by the university with discrimination and creating a hostile environment against a male student who demanded to be referred to with female titles and pronouns.

    Dr. Meriwether was threatened with “further corrective actions” if he did not either refer to students using pronouns that reflect their self-asserted gender identity or stop using pronouns altogether for all students. Thankfully, the 6th Circuit ruled that this compelled speech was a clear violation of Dr. Meriwether’s First Amendment right to free speech.

    If the government can compel this kind of speech, then it can compel just about any other kind of speech. . . .

    As our society has become increasingly intolerant of ideas it disagrees with, so too has our government failed in its obligation to protect everyone’s free speech and is instead compelling citizens to articulate only the government’s preferred messages. But compelling people to speak messages they disagree with is antithetical to our Constitution’s protection of free speech. The government cannot force us to say things we do not want to say—especially things that violate our deepest beliefs. We must remember that a free society requires the respect of people’s freedom of conscience and their ability to say—or not say—what is on their mind.

  9. So let me get this straight: The Great and Powerful Oz of Burlington’s Neighborhood Planning Assembly (NPA) are using their political power to set an incredibly insane precedent to FORCE we-the-people to talk the way they DEMAND we talk or lose any semblance of sane, responsible representation. I got that right, don’t I?

    I gotta tell ya, I am truly impressed by this Progressive dedication to enforcing their commie dichotomy in every breath I take, every move I make. They are SO dedicated. SO in tune with the real needs of Vermonters.

    This is SO MUCH BETTER than wasting my tax dollars to address their expensive forced agenda of paying for ILLEGAL ALIENS who show no desire to become self supporting Americans.

    SO MUCH BETTER than tackling the current inability of our law enforcement to tackle crimes perpetrated by said ILLEGAL ALIENS.

    SO MUCH BETTER than initiating any discussion re: election integrity.

    SO MUCH BETTER than making even a modicum of effort to cut taxes.

    SO MUCH BETTER than making voter sanctioned decisions as to how in the hell do you “leaders” get off telling us what kind of vehicle we will be ALLOWED to own.

    SO MUCH BETTER than this board having to do ANYTHING that we-the-people want. After all (and don’t kid yourselves, we all know they have been selected, NOT elected) they have so effectively taken over, they haven’t even taken their appropriate oaths of office, signed none of that appropriate paperwork.

    I see it this way: Now that the COVID scare can’t be used to dictate whatever these insane self-absorbed people want, they are just brazenly refusing to wear their mask of deception (pun intended). They have wielded their gavel as they dictate. And you just better play ball.

    Sucks to be us!!! RIIIIIGHT?

    And now you are going to spend more of OUR money to play their “Let’s go to court game.”

    How about this: Stop wasting our time and money with this bull. I don’t care if what you see in the mirror is a cute pink penguin who likes to bed down with short giraffes. I don’t care who you bed down with, in whatever manner you deem fit. It’s none of my concern.

    What IS my concern is this ridiculous attack on yet another constitutionally enumerated right: MY FREE SPEECH. You don’t get to tell me I can’t say what I want, OR I MUST say what YOU want. Get an effing life.

  10. Like many I have been following the tragedy of the October 7 Hamas attacks in Israel. The Israeli government invited over 200 journalists to view a compendium of visuals detailing the many horrors that took place on Oct. 7. An engaging article was written by one journalist who viewed the presentation:


    As I reflect on the horrific details presented in that article, and contrast them with what appears to be priorities of gender identity progressives in the community of B-town, I am saddened by the reality that the human species is traveling down a road that historians of the future will look back upon and wonder how humanity could have made such tragic mistakes.

  11. Conservatives should flock to the Council meetings and “flip” their “gender pronouns” whenever addressed, if not just make them up altogether. The Council members obviously needed to be bludgeoned with their own policies before they will recognize how self-destructive they are. Maybe then, and only then, when they are hoisted by their own petards, will they learn.

  12. Preferred gender pronouns. What a bizzar concept. As Frank Zappa said, You are what you is . Your DNA says you’re a male, you’re a male. Period

  13. Everyone should be assigned an overseer with an MFA in English to slap their wrists when they use the wrong grammar, pronoun, sentence structure, or SPELLING!!!
    I’m deeply offended when people do not know how to write, spell or speak…MASTERS IN ENGLISH REQUIRED or go to jail…

  14. No one should have to acknowledge your mental delusions, want to live a fairly tail then by all means go ahead but we as humans don’t and won’t play along. The council is fool of idiotic do gooders, with no common sense at all. Defended the police, want everyone to use electric for everything, don’t want the f-35 or air guard here. They need to go away, crime is high, shootings are higher than I’ve seen and all because of the council and the attorney general who do nothing but go easy on the addicts and criminals. We have a high school principal that is obviously unqualified, hired because of diversity not skill. The city council doesn’t have a qualified bone in the group.

  15. I had to listen to this recording twice to confirm that what I heard was a lot of bullying to force a person to say something he did not believe. He was compassionate with the women who were coercing him to speak what he believed was scientifically false and when he stood his ground threats came forward. Unbelievable. Is it in the food or water??

  16. Sounds like the Board of gutless are trying to cover their butts from being sued instead of standing up for free speach!

  17. That WOMAN needs to get a grip on reality! SHE will always BE a woman! I applaud Jeff Comstock for standing for TRUTH!

  18. I stand firmly with Mr Comstock. I don’t even need to take a stand on the pronoun debate. I do stand firmly on the first amendment of our constitution. No one should be forced to speak or not speak as they are told. This person moved to Burlington from another city. I suggest they seek mental health counseling instead of forcing speech and behavior on the rest of us.

  19. After listening to the recording….
    Why is your confusion about your identity my problem?
    Why would I use a pronoun when I am speaking to you? Pronouns, by definition is used when you are speaking ABOUT someone. Using someone’s name is appropriate. How ridiculous are these people?
    Lee is “exhausted” having to go to these meetings and tolerate one person who doesn’t follow their bizarre way of speaking. Well, let me tell you LEE, I’m exhausted dealing with your nonsense.

    • Burlington City Council approved a resolution clarifying what constitutes discrimination, and as they create a pathway for removing members who fail to comply; Burlington City Council set themselves up with a major lawsuit. They have no authority to supercede 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. When your speech is in line with biological truth is being attacked by BCC, we have a serious issue of the Council not understanding the 1st amendment. We are not talking about yelling “FIRE” in a movie theater, when there it doesn’t exist. We are talking about someone maintaining the biological truth they learned in school, their parents, and the majority of society, and not being forced to say something they don’t believe is true, and has no scientific facts.
      If the council is going to remove members, they better have facts on their side instead of public opinion.

  20. Being they are so proud and in an effort to qualm their anxiety of being misgendered, perhaps the answer is tatoo it across the forehead to avoid any future mistaken identity gaffs. The general public cannot mind read the dysphorsic, malcontent, cognitive dissonence that plagues a minor segment of our society. Wear the label proudly so we can all see it, treat you “special” as demanded, and those tears and fears should subside, maybe.

  21. Now you understand what Citizen Cider is going through ….
    They hired their problem – the bartenders.

  22. Millions of Americans who live with severe chronic pain are denied access to adequate medication by this fascist police state — but we don’t defend THEIR rights… instead we vicariously defend the “right” not to have your FEELINGS hurt. This isn’t Burlington, it’s crazytown.