School unveils gender-neutral alternative to the word ‘freshmen’
A school in Easthampton, Massachusetts has asked its students not to use the word “freshmen”, and has proposed a gender-neutral alternative.
The Easthampton High School is facing minor controversy for saying that students should instead use the term “first-year students”.
The move comes as the school plans to be more gender inclusive.
Students were informed of the change in language in the handbook on Wednesday.
One student, Eileen Corbeil of Easthampton, told WWLP: “Changing the way we use pronouns has been a challenge for me.
“I want people to feel comfortable and if it means that I have to change the way I use my language, I’m ok with that.”
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The change comes after the Gender and Sexuality Alliance Group made suggestions to the handbook committee on how the student handbook can be more gender-neutral.
The handbook is given to Student and School Councils before it is given to the school committee for approval.
But the school has stopped short of enforcing the change in language, and the school’s superintendent Nancy Follansbee said students can use the term freshman if they wish.
The school was previously investigated by the Attorney General’s office in Massachusetts for racial incidents.
After the investigation, the school undertook diversity and inclusion training, including the appointment of a diversity officer.
This was intended to bring the school in compliance with civil rights law.