Canada: Schools axe 'he' and 'she' in favour of 'xe'

File image: Rainbow flag The new pronoun "xe" is pronounced "zee"

Some schools in Vancouver are reported to be doing away with the old-fashioned pronouns "he" and "she" for their transgender pupils in favour of a new gender-neutral word, "xe".

The school board in the Canadian city has approved a new policy which allows pupils to be referred to as "xe, xem and xyr" instead of "he or she", "him or her", and "his or hers". "We're standing up for kids and making our schools safer and more inclusive," board member Mike Lombardi told the Vancouver Sun. Another change will allow children to choose to use any toilet facilities they prefer, including a mandatory unisex option.

Opponents of the policy shouted "dictator" and "liar" at school trustees when it was passed after only a brief debate at a rowdy public meeting which had to be guarded by police. Parents who question the changes argue that six-year-olds aren't qualified to understand identity issues and that as some of them can't even use the toilet yet, much less decide which washroom to do it in, National Post commentator Kelly McParland said.

After another meeting in May, an angry parent told the CBC that parents, psychologists and medical experts were not being listened to. "This is not meaningful conversation. This is politics of division, it's getting people upset and angry," said Cheryl Chang.

Suggesting a possible alternative to xe (pronounced "zee"), National Post's Kelly McParland wrote: "The British long ago began using the term 'one' - as in 'one does wish for a glass of water' to get around this problem, but it's viewed as a bit cold and snooty, and therefore undesirable."

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