Grace Church School, a private school in Manhattan, is urging students and staffers to refrain from using basic terms such as “mom” and “dad” and to replace them with more “inclusive language,” as detailed in an extensive 12-page guide, which considers the phrase “traditional family” an “outdated” term.
While we recognize hateful language that promotes racism, misogyny, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination are already addressed in our school handbooks, we also recognize that we can do more than ban hateful language; we can use language to create welcoming and inclusive spaces.
The guide aims to address ways students and staff can remove “harmful assumptions from the way we interact with each other.”
The school stresses the importance of using gender inclusive language, contending that it provides “critical affirmation to students across the gender spectrum.” It provides a range of examples of words and phrases that should be replaced. The basic phrases “boys and girls” and “ladies and gentlemen,” for example, should be replaced with the terms “people, folks, friends, readers, mathematicians,” etc., per the guidance.
“When reading a book, rather than ‘the boy/girl on this page,’” staff and students should use the gender neutral terms “child, person, or character.” It also encourages students and teachers to establish a “culture of sharing affirming pronouns in class.”
The basic titles “mom and dad” are also targeted in the guide, which recommends using the term “grown-ups, folks, family” or guardians. The term “traditional family” is outdated, per the guide.
“We actively try to undo notions of a ‘typical’ or ‘normal’ family structure, each family is unique,” the resource reads.
The guide also devotes a section to sexual orientation, stating that human sexuality ”exists along a spectrum.”
“At Grace Church School, we use inclusive language that acknowledges all orientation and identities,” the guide states, suggesting avoiding phrases such as “ladies man,” “boys will love those eyelashes,” and “your mom and dad must be so proud.”
It also lists a series of potentially problematic situations and solutions. For example, if someone says “a boy can’t marry a boy” or “a girl can’t marry a girl,” the guide urges the individual to consider responding with something like, “People can love and commit to whomever they please, it’s their choice who they marry.”
Additionally, the guidance addresses both race and religion, identifying “colorblind,” “caucasian,” “diverse person,” “colormute,” and “colored people,” as outdated terms.
The guidance ends with a glossary of “identity and shared value terms,” which includes “gender equity,” “implicit bias,” “inclusion,” “institutional racism,” “intersectionality,” “microaggression,” and “white privilege.”
Rev. Robert M. Pennoyer II, the assistant head of school, defended the guidance, telling the City-Journal, “Grace is an Episcopal school. As part of our Episcopal identity, we recognize the dignity and worth common to humanity.”