Altrincham Grammar for Girls sent out a letter last week informing student’s parents that teachers would officially be prohibited from referring to their students as “girls.”
Headteacher Stephanie Gill explained in a letter to the student’s parents: “We are working to break ingrained habits in the way we speak to and about students, particularly referring to them collectively as “girls.”
In an interview with the BBC, a local resident condemned the decision. “It’s 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,” the resident said.
Chris McGovern of the Campaign for Real Education praised the intentions of the school but ultimately derided the decision 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 said.
“Instead, this kind of move risks leading to more bullying of transgender pupils who may wrongly be blamed for this move,” he added.
Altrincham Grammar School for Girls asks staff to not use the word "girls" when talking to pupils because they don't want transgender pupils to be "misgendered". But say there are no plans to drop the "Girls" from the school's name. pic.twitter.com/CpI7l8psL7
— BBC North West (@BBCNWT) January 9, 2018
Others were more supportive of the decision. Cambridge undergraduate student and Manchester resident Hannah Dawson praised the decision, arguing that its a victory for transgender students.
“God forbid teachers actually respect their students gender identity — people getting her up about the news need to calm down — it takes very little effort to change language for teachers but such effort could mean the world to a trans student,” Dawson said.
In a statement, the school argued that the decision was made to ensure that all students feel comfortable.
“It’s important our students feel comfortable and able to bring their true selves to the learning environment,” the school said. “We welcome and celebrate diversity at our school and we will look at any measure, however small, to ensure the wellbeing of our staff and students.”
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