Only gender-neutral language should be used when addressing pupils, Natasha Devon, told headteachers of the country’s leading girls’ schools
Teachers are being advised not to refer to female pupils as either ‘girls’ or ‘ladies’ because it causes them to be ‘constantly reminded of their gender’.
Only gender-neutral language should be used when addressing pupils, the Government’s former mental health tsar Natasha Devon told headteachers of the country’s leading girls’ schools.
Ms Devon – who also said the same rule should apply for when referring to male pupils – said she would ‘never walk into a room in an all girls’ school and say girls or ladies’ because it would be ‘patronising’, reports The Daily Telegraph.
Speaking at the Girls’ School Association annual conference in Manchester, she added: ‘I don’t think it’s useful to be constantly reminded of your gender all the time and all the stereotypes that go with it.’
Rather than addressing youngsters as ‘boys’ or ‘girls’, Ms Devon said teachers should use gender-neutral terms like ‘pupils’, ‘students’ or ‘people’.
She believes ‘boys’ holds connotations of being macho and not talking about feelings, while ‘girls’ prompts a sense that everything they do must be done perfectly, which can create ‘anxiety’.
Ms Devon told headteachers at the event that teachers should be using terms like ‘pupils’ ‘students’ or ‘people’ instead of gendered words. File photo
Ms Devon, the Government’s former mental health tsar, said she would ‘never walk into a room in an all girls’ school and say girls or ladies’ because it would be ‘patronising’. File photo
Headteachers were told: ‘If your narrative is saying girls don’t get angry, or boys don’t cry, or girls aren’t allowed to do this, or boys aren’t allowed to do this, then that is potentially going to have an impact on your wellbeing.’
Another reason to avoid using gendered terms, Ms Devon said, was in case transgender people were present.
It comes after the Department for Education appointed Ms Devon as its first ever mental health champion for schools, in August 2015.
But, after making a string of criticisms against Government policy, her role was axed.