5-speed listening (Gender-neutral Language - Level 6)

University staff asked not to say 'mother' and 'father'



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Staff at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra have been requested to avoid the use of certain words related to gender. ANU's Gender Institute issued a list of replacement terms for everyday words like 'mother' and 'father'. The switch in vocabulary is part of an initiative to encourage more gender-neutral language. Staff are being asked to use the term 'gestational parent' instead of 'mother,' and 'non-birthing parent' in place of 'father'. The institute's gender handbook claims the words 'mother' and 'father' exclude non-binary people. These are people who identify as being neither male nor female. Non-binary people feel unrepresented in society because of words that refer to males and females. The gender handbook explains the suggested nomenclature guidelines. It says: "While many students will identify as 'mothers' or 'fathers,' using these terms alone to describe parenthood excludes those who do not identify with gender-binaries." It added: "This non-gendered language is particularly important in…discussions of childbirth and parenthood." An ANU spokesperson said the handbook was just a guide. It said: "This document is not an official ANU policy.…It is a guide developed by expert researchers to assist anyone committed to enhancing inclusiveness and diversity." Last week, a UK university asked its staff to substitute the word 'chestfeeding' for 'breastfeeding'.

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