In an effort to coddle the transgender community, the President of the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA) in the United Kingdom is suggesting that teachers in single-sex institutions avoid gender-specific labels like “girls” in favor of neutral alternatives.
Ena Harrop, head of City of London School for Girls, is suggesting a ban on the use of gender-specific labels in situations when transgender students are present. “We are trying to replace the word girls with students or pupils, when transgender pupils are present and where relevant to the audience.”
The Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy, which is a think tank at UCLA law school, concluded in 2011 that less than half of a percent of the United States population identifies as transgender. Despite this, administrators at secondary schools and universities around the world are scrambling to change their language codes.
Caroline Jordan, President of the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA), argues that schools have a duty to respect all of their pupils during their transitionary phases. “The crux of the matter is that schools have a duty of care to all pupils including those who decide to transition,” Mrs. Jordon said. “Language is one part of this complex pastoral issue and GSA schools, which have a long history of excellence in pastoral care, are at the forefront of showing best practice in including transgender pupils.”
Clarifying her position, Jordan argued that language should only be changed when there are transgender students present: “Where relevant to the audience, in assemblies, for example, instead of saying ‘Girls, go to lessons,’ staff should consider saying ‘Pupils, go to lessons’ or ‘Students, go to lessons.’
Jay Stewart, who works at a non-profit that seeks to increase understanding of gender diversity, rejects banning gender-specific words altogether but suggests increasing the use of neutral labels in situations when it is appropriate. “Young people want to feel they belong in their school environment and they are not made to feel ‘other’ or weirdos or freaks,” Stewart claimed.
“Every year there are more and more young people posing questions around their gender identity. I do not want anyone to think that girls’ or boys’ schools are invested in one way of being a girl or one way of being a boy,” Jordan finished.