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Victorian Schools Urged To Avoid Words Like 'Mum' And 'Dad' To Be More Inclusive

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Victorian Schools Urged To Avoid Words Like 'Mum' And 'Dad' To Be More Inclusive

Schools and sporting groups in Victoria are being urged to ditch traditional parental and relationship terms to make language more inclusive.

The North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network has established the #SpeakingUpSpeaksVolumes campaign to make people aware of the words they use.

The body has encouraged students, athletes, staff and parents to stop using words like 'mum', 'dad', 'boyfriend' and 'girlfriend' and instead use more gender neutral language.

The Network believes people should consider using terms like 'partner' or 'parent' in situations where you are not familiar with a person and the gender pronouns they prefer. If you don't know what pronoun preference someone might have, then simply ask them.

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They also want to bring in optional unisex bathrooms, non-gendered sporting teams and put rainbow flags up to help LGBTQIA+ people feel more included.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

The North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network's CEO Chris Carter told the Herald Sun that these small suggestions could help support young people.

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"When someone is experiencing bullying, silence often feels like indifference, which can create a terrible sense of isolation," he said.

"The simple act of openly showing support can be a catalyst for great change for the better and it's often the less obvious moments that can be the most impactful to someone's wellbeing."

The push for people to avoid using gendered terms has been slowly gathering pace in Australia.

Australia National University updated its Gender Institute Handbook in February to offer new words for mother and father.

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ANU suggested that people wanting to refer to mums and dads should say 'gestational parent' instead of mother and 'non-birthing parent' instead of father when talking to colleagues and students.

But there is also a big campaign against the move for more inclusive language.

One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts was successful in getting a motion passed though the Senate that would ban gender neutral language from official documents and policy.

The Morrison government backed the proposal, with Tasmanian Liberal Senator Jonathon Duniam announcing the party's position before the vote went ahead.

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"The government supports the rights of individuals to make use of any pronouns or descriptors they prefer, while encouraging respect for the preferences of others," he said.

"The government will use language in communications that is appropriate for the purpose of those communications and is respectful of its audiences."

The motion resulted in a narrow victory of 33 votes affirmative and 31 negative.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: LGBT, Australia

Stewart Perrie
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