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New York Private School Warns Against Using 'Mom and Dad' in 'Inclusive Language Guide'

03-22-2021

A private school in Manhattan is warning against using sex-based terms like “mom and dad” or “boys and girls,” because they make assumptions about people.

Grace Church School explained in its “inclusive language guide” that the school “can do more than ban hateful language; we can use language to create welcoming and inclusive spaces.”

Rather than using the words “mom and dad” to describe a child’s parents, the guide recommends saying “grown-ups, folks, or family.” It even warns against using the word “parents,” too.

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It also discourages the words “boys and girls.” In lieu of those titles, one should say, “people, folks, friends, readers, mathematicians…” And instead of using “a boy/girl pattern” to line students up, teachers should “group by types of shoes” or by alphabetical order.

“Families are formed and structured in many ways,” the guide states. “At Grace Church School, we use inclusive language that reflects this diversity. It’s important to refrain from making assumptions about who kids live with, who cares for them, whether they sleep in the same place every night, whether they see their parents, etc.”

It’s worth noting the guide itself uses the verboten word “parents.”

The guide also references the “Genderbread person,” which offers a progressive understanding of “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” “gender expression,” and “sex characteristics.”

The school released a statement this week, defending its decision to promote the “inclusive language guide,” claiming to be a victim of “the culture war storm.”

“We know that policing language demonstrates more concern for getting a community to use the right words than for cultivating a sense of belonging for its members,” said Head of School George Davison. “That is not how we do things at Grace, and that is why our Inclusive Language Guide does not ban any words. At Grace, we understand the power of language both to include and to cause alienation. We also know that it is our job to give community members resources to allow them to make informed and generous choices.”

He went on to say the guide is “designed to help the adults in the community find words to affirm and unite.”

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