University of Manchester advises against using 'mother' and 'father'

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University of ManchesterImage source, Google
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The University of Manchester has denied banning or scrapping certain words

A university has advised staff against using the terms "mother" and "father" to avoid bias and assumption.

The University of Manchester's guidance on inclusive language encourages the use of gender-neutral terms such as "parent" or "guardian" instead.

Jonathan Gullis, Conservative MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove and Talke, described the guidance as "wokery gone mad".

The university has denied scrapping or banning any words.

The guidance, which was circulated to staff earlier this week, was created by the university's equality, diversity and inclusion team.

It follows feedback from colleagues who suggested they would like more advice on which terms and language to use, the university said.

The guidance recommends using gender-neutral terms, rather than those that make sex distinction such as:

  • You or they/their/them, not he/she or him/her
  • People/person or individual(s), rather than man/men or woman/women
  • Everyone/colleagues, rather than ladies and gentlemen/guys
  • Parent or guardian, rather than mother or father
  • Partner, rather than husband or wife
  • Sibling, rather than brother or sister
  • Artificial or synthetic, rather than man-made
  • Humankind, not mankind
  • Workforce, not manpower
  • We provide cover or staff, rather than to 'man'

The guidance has been criticised on social media with some labelling the advice as "language policing" while others defended the move, stating that schools and universities have used terms like "parent or guardian" instead of "mother and father" for decades.

Toby Young, general secretary of the Free Speech Union, said: "If I was a student at Manchester University I'm not sure I would regard this as a good use of my £9,250 a year.

"Instead of focusing on educational standards, or supporting those students who've been short-changed during the pandemic, Manchester has wasted time and money on producing a guide to how to speak woke-ish.

"Young people hate it when you call them snowflakes, but Manchester has done its students no favours by suggesting they might be offended by words like 'mother' and 'father'."

A University of Manchester spokesperson said it had "simply produced a guidance document for our staff that encourages the use of more inclusive language to avoid bias or assumptions".

"In that, we recommend the use of the term 'parent/guardian'," they added.

"This is well established terminology and does not in any way mean that we are banning the words 'mother' or 'father'."

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