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Should We Stop Saying “Girl” And “Boy”?

Written by Katie Hintz-Zambrano

Photography by Photographed by Katie Hintz-Zambrano

Should we stop referring to “girls” as “girls” and “boys” as “boys”? If one Nebraska middle school has it its way, yes. In order to make its school more gender inclusive, handouts have been circulated to teachers at Irving Middle School, urging them to refer to students as readers, campers, athletes, purple penguins, and other non-gender-specific titles.

It’s all a part of the “Gender Spectrum” campaign, which also recommends teachers don’t have kids line up by “boy” and “girl,” but rather by having them choose between things like skateboards or bikes, milk or juice, etc. It also suggests instructors ask students by which name and/or pronoun they’d like to be referred, discuss gender stereotypes when they arise, and strike out “All Boys” and “All Girls” signs and add “All Genders Welcome” labels above doors.

Overall, the 12-step handout (read it here) advises, “Always ask yourself: Will this configuration create a gendered space?”

While there has been online outrage over the idea that a school would eliminate two of the most common monikers in all languages (hear the Lincoln Superintendent’s defense here), it also has us thinking of what a classroom like this would look like.

We want to get your take: Is banning the word “girl” and “boy” a good idea? Would you be willing to try it out at home?



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