Campaigner Opposed To Calling Young Women 'Girls' Faces Huge Backlash

We shouldn't be calling young females 'girls' or 'ladies', according to former government mental health tsar Natasha Devon. That's because it reinforces gender stereotypes, and could also upset transgender students, she feels. She explains her theory in the clip below:

Credit: ITV / This Morning

Natasha appeared on This Morning to air her views, which first gained attention after she spoke at the annual conference for the Girls' School Association earlier this week.

"There is no doubt that people are born either male or female, with a small number who are born intersex," she said to a slightly baffled Holly Willoughby and Philip Schofield.

"But what's happened is we've created these ideas about what men on average are like and what women on average are like, which are usually based on truth, but over time they've turned into 'this is what men should be like', 'this is what women should be like' - and those stereotypes can be incredibly damaging to mental health.

"Let's just broaden out our language, make it a little bit more neutral," she continued, later on into the chat. "So that if I say, well you know, 'man up' or 'you're a boy' or 'you're a girl', there aren't any of those invisible expectations, which are maybe damaging children."

However, while speaking on This Morning she found herself at the middle of a Twitter storm, with one Twitter user simply saying "it's BS".

Whether it's because they think political correctness has gone too far, or because they simply don't like being told what to do, viewers were left pretty riled up by her comments.

The debate has also managed to wind up Piers Morgan, who told Girls' Schools Association President Charlotte Avery: "I don't want you to tell my little girl she's not a girl", live on yesterday's Good Morning Britain.

Credit: Good Morning Britain / ITV

"I don't think it's useful to be constantly reminded of your gender all the time and the stereotypes that go with it," Natasha had said at the conference earlier this week.

"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."

In August 2015, the Department for Education appointed her as a mental health champion for schools, but she was sacked just nine months later after making a series of criticisms about government policy.

Featured Image Credit: This Morning / ITV

Jess Hardiman

Jess Hardiman is a journalist who graduated from Manchester University with a BA in Film Studies, English Language and Literature, and has previously worked for Time Out and The Skinny among others.

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