UK Schools To Appoint ‘Gender Champions’ To Police ‘Sexist Language’

UK schools will appoint ‘gender champions’ tasked with monitoring the language of schoolchildren as young as five in order to stamp out sexist terms such as “sissy”, “cupcake” and to challenge stereotypes.


Under new guidelines to be published tomorrow, senior teachers will be named ‘gender champions’ in schools to help headteachers promote ‘male subjects’ – science, economics, technology, engineering, and mathematics – to girls, while pushing boys towards humanities and languages.


The aim of the guidelines, drawn up by the Institute of Physics (a London-based scientific charity that works to advance physics education) and promoted by the Department for Education, is to eliminate gender stereotyping in schools from the outset, targeting pupils as young as five-years-old.


The Institute’s Professor Peter Main told The Sunday Times:


“The government is backing this. They have told us to send our good practice guide to every school in the country. Sexist language has a considerable impact but in our research we found that it was often dismissed as just banter and was much more common than teachers were aware of.”


Examples of the oppressive language to be targeted have come to light after a pilot programme was run in some schools. At one, volunteer girls were assigned with the task of spotting sexist language in the playground and reporting the perpetrators to staff.


Janice Callow, Deputy Pead at Fairfields High School in Bristol, explained:


“We have always had clear policies on racist language but now we are making it clear to staff that any kind of sexist language is not acceptable.


“We used to say ‘Man up, cupcake’. We’ve stopped that. Saying ‘Don’t be a girl’ to a boy if they are being a bit wet is also unacceptable. Language is a very powerful tool. You have to be so conscious of what you are saying to children.”


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