Senior Terminated by MS Organization Over Pronouns Entitlement

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    faithie / shutterstock.com
    faithie / shutterstock.com

    Fran Itkoff had spent over six decades volunteering with the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society and lost her husband to the disease 20 years ago. After he passed, she took over his position as head of the Long Beach Lakewood MS support group on top of her volunteering, so to say she knew MS would be an understatement. Winning ample awards during her tenure, she shone an amazingly bright light on the nonprofit.

    In a TikTok interview, she detailed what had happened.

    Out of nowhere, a group representative asked Itkoff to put her pronouns in her email signature. “I was confused. I didn’t know what it was and what it meant. I had seen it on a couple of letters that had come in after the person’s name. But I didn’t know what it meant. So when I finally talked to her, I asked what it meant… And she said that meant they were all-inclusive, which didn’t make sense to me.”

    The way she understood it, it sounded like the MS Society was being listed as only for women, and excluding men as the “she/her” looked to Itkoff. Given the initials for the society and the appearance of the pronouns, it’s easy to see the connection. However, within days she was terminated, or according to the MS Society, asked to step down.

    National MS Society Community Engagement Manager Kali Kulor claimed Itkoff had violated their “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” (DEI) guidelines. After sending her an email telling her to stand down, they then doubled down when the interview broke. Via email to volunteers, they claimed she was let go because others didn’t need to feel “unsafe” around her.

    Suddenly, the president and CEO of the organization, Cyndi Zagieboylo, resigned and refused to cite the incident as being behind her resignation. Instead, she simply said she was anxious to retire. The icing on the cake came on February 15th, as the organization issued a press release about her departure.

    Knowing full well how poorly thought out this was, the society removed its board of directors from its website. Being asked to explain what’s going on shouldn’t be so difficult. Especially when it’s a senior asking to learn. As their own DEI policy showed, she should have been protected. This termination is retaliatory for nothing more than her age and not having her finger on the liberal pulse.