Top grammar school bans teachers from calling its pupils ‘girls’ in case it offends transgender children
January 12th, 2018
- Altrincham Grammar School for Girls banning teachers from calling pupils ‘girl’
- Instead, staff will be forced to use ‘gender-neutral language’ whilst at school
- Move dismissed as ‘ridiculous’ and ‘potty’ given the word is in the school’s title
- School bosses have confirmed there are no plans to change the school’s name For more than a century it has educated generations of girls.
But one of the country’s top-performing state schools has baffled parents by informing them its staff will in future use ‘gender-neutral language’ when talking to or about children.
Altrincham Grammar School for Girls in Manchester fears that using the ‘g-word’ could result in pupils who are changing sex being ‘miss-gendered’.
Pupils are likely to be addressed as ‘students’ instead.
However despite the ban, the 1,350-pupil school has no plans to drop the term from its name.
In a letter to parents, Principal Stephanie Gill said the rethink came in response to ‘the challenges facing our students who are questioning their gender identity or who do not identify as girls’.
Despite the fact the school does not admit boys, she added that parents ‘may have noticed that we have moved to using gender neutral language in all our communications with students and parents’.
She added: ‘We are working to break ingrained habits in the way we speak to and about students, particularly referring to them collectively as “girls”.’
The letter goes on to say that ‘for many transgender students being miss-gendered can be very hurtful’ and undermines efforts to demonstrate that ‘everyone is welcome’ at the school.
‘Staff have embraced these changes and are doing their best to implement this new policy,’ she concluded.
Altrincham Grammar in Greater Manchester is sixth in the Sunday Times list of best state schools in the country, with all of its students being awarded A*-C grades in last year’s GCSE exams. But it could face a backlash over its decision.
One parent, who asked not to be named, said: ‘When I opened the letter I wasn’t sure if it was a joke or not. It seems a bit potty to me.
‘They are talking about diversity, but it’s a girls only school. How does that work?’
A local resident told the BBC: ‘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.’
Chris McGovern, of the Campaign for Real Education, described the move 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.’
Former Coronation Street star Charlie Lawson, who played Jim McDonald, was among those to mock the change in policy.
He said: ‘Teachers in a girls school down the road told not to call children “girls”.
‘God give me friggin’ strength.’
Lance Spencer also took to Twitter to poke fun at the school, saying: ‘Altrincham Grammar School for Gender Neutrals doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.’
And photographer Ian Charles said: ‘Going to be confusing as the sign outside says “Altrincham Grammar School for Girls”.’
Anita Wood also derided the school’s choice of direction, saying: ‘The world has gone mad – top grammar school Altrincham girls not allowed to call the students girls anymore.’
But some defended the move, including Cambridge undergraduate and Manchester resident Hannah Dawson.
Miss Dawson, who was the former editor of The Tab student newspaper at the college, said: ‘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.
‘I went to the other girls grammar in Altrincham and honestly would be proud if they did the same thing.’
But the member of staff in charge of the school’s Twitter account does not appear to be on board with the idea.
Nine hours ago the official account posted using the hashtag ‘Alty Girls’, which also appears in the username.
The move comes following official advice to primary school heads to include books featuring transgender parents on the curriculum and asking schools to ensure uniform rules ‘avoid gender stereotypes’.
In November, former Government former mental health tsar Natasha Devon told the Girls’ Schools Association teachers should avoid calling female pupils ‘girls’ because it reinforces gender stereotypes and may upset transgender children.
A statement issued by the school said: ‘It’s important our students feel comfortable and able to bring their true selves to the learning environment.
‘We welcome and celebrate diversity at our school and we will look at any measure, however small, to ensure the well being of our staff and students.’