November 23, 2017
Teachers should avoid calling female pupils “girls” or “ladies” because it means they are “constantly reminded of their gender”, a former government mental health tsar has said.
Natasha Devon, who was appointed MBE in 2015 for “services to young people”, said the move would help transgendered children as well as encourage female and male students to defy traditional notions of gender, which affect “well-being”.
She told the Girls’ School Association’s annual conference in Manchester that she would “never walk into a room in an all-girls’ school and say ‘girls’ or ‘ladies’” because it is “patronising”.
Teachers should instead address youngsters as “pupils”, “students”, or even just “people”, she insisted, according to The Telegraph.
“I don’t think it is useful to be constantly reminded of your gender all the time and all the stereotypes that go with it.”
The word “girls” can “create a lot of anxiety” in female children and teenagers, she claimed, while the word “boys” carries connotations of “being macho, not talking about your feelings, being told to man up”.
She continued: “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 well-being.
“So I hope that in taking away the negative stereotypes associated with gender, we can ultimately improve their mental health.”
On the transgender issue, she added: “There are some schools I go into that are single-sex schools, but there are transgender students in the year… You can’t presume that because somebody presents as a gender that that’s what they are.”
Last year, a parliamentary report into transgenderism called for all teachers to have “gender identity awareness training” and demanded that “trans issues” become “mandatory” in schools.