A school in Manchester has banned its teachers from using the word “girls” when referring to students believing that it might upset those who do not identify themselves as girls. The Altrincham Grammar School for Girls, recently hailed as one of the country’s outstanding state schools, sent letters to parents informing them of the decision.
As per the Daily Mail, principal Stephanie Gill wrote that the school is embracing a gender-neutral language because “for many transgender students, being misgendered can be very hurtful.” The school wants to ensure that its students are “able to bring their true selves to the learning environment.”
Apart from teachers, all other school workers are asked to “break ingrained habits in the way we speak to and about students.” Nonetheless, the 1910-founded school isn’t removing the word from its name.
The school took into consideration the data released by Stonewall, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender charity. More than 3,700 young people participated in the study which revealed that 84 percent have tried to harm themselves while 45 percent attempted suicide because of the threats aimed at them.
However, some are mocking Altrincham Grammar’s new policy. Chris McGovern, member of the Campaign for Real Education, acknowledged the good purpose behind the move but branded it as “complete folly.”
“The intentions are good, but children who have issues over their gender identity can be treated with respect without the English language being altered to accommodate them,” he explained. “Instead, this kind of move risks leading to more bullying of transgender pupils who may wrongly be blamed for this move.”
A local resident who refused to be named told BBC that the school’s choice of direction is “ridiculous.”
“We live in an age where we have to respect people’s views and if people have issues around gender and sexuality, we have to understand that. But girls should be referred to as girls.”
On the other hand, some believe that the policy is a gamechanger. Hannah Dawson, former editor of Cambridge’s student paper The Tab, defended the school’s move. Dawson, who also went to a girls-only grammar school, said that it only “takes very little effort to change language for teachers but such effort could mean the world to a trans student.”
Altrincham Grammar has “wellbeing ambassadors” who recently teamed up with University of Manchester’s educational psychologists to develop mental health support programs that will benefit the young student body. One proposal is an easily available quiz that informs students when and how to seek professional help.