France takes a stand against writing integrating gender in schools

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France takes a stand against writing integrating gender in schools



The so-called “inclusive writing”, which has been a bone of contention in the French political debate in recent years, is seen as detrimental to the learning process.

The French Minister of National Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer, recently called on public teaching staff to ban the use of so-called “inclusive writing” in schools and in his ministry, calling the practice “harmful to the practice and intelligibility of the French language. “

In his circular of May 6 published in the official bulletin of the ministry, Blanquer was inspired by an opinion delivered by the French Academy, adding that his supporters “violate the rhythms of the evolution of language according to a brutal, arbitrary injunction and not coordinated ”.

This epicene language – introduced in 2017 in a school book by the French publishing house Hatier and hailed by movements that promote gender ideology in society – is to include the feminine in all linguistic contexts where, generally, the generic masculine prevails, especially in the plural. For example, the masculine ” all– “each of you / them” or “everyone” – traditionally refers to an entire group which can include both men and women. Women ” all»Only used when intended for women only.

Proponents of this language recommend mentioning both feminine and masculine in a sentence when the perpetrators are both male and female. So, “all of you” (all) becomes in French ” all and (and) all. “” Those “(those) bECOMES ” those (feminine) and those (male). “

Likewise, “inclusive writing” promotes the feminization of words linked to roles and professions which are, most of the time, all male (ambassador / ambassador, rapporteur / reporter, firefighter / firefighter), as well as the use of neutral words or the systematic mention of the feminine by dots in the middle which divide the words. For example, according to such a rule, ” Dear readers“(Dear readers) must become”dear readers»; « the authors“(The writers) will become”the authors“; and ” customers“(Customers) becomes”Clients».

For Blanquer, a member of the progressive party La République en Marche (LREM), “the complexity and instability” of this genre-integrating writing “are barriers to both language acquisition and reading”, as he writes it in the circular. “These artificial pitfalls are all the more inappropriate as they hinder the efforts of students with learning difficulties who are welcomed into the public service of the inclusive school”, he added, affirming that the French language is “a precious treasure to which we dedicate ourselves. share with all our students, in its beauty and fluidity, without quarrels or instrumentalisation.

The Minister nevertheless prescribed the feminization of roles and professions when they are occupied by women. But this concession was not enough to temper the reactions of supporters of “inclusive writing”.

Following the publication of the government circular, in fact, the main teachers’ union Sud Education called on teachers across France to ignore “these instructions from another time and to fully exercise their educational freedom, as they do. wish, depending on professional situations ”.

This political and ideological struggle over the language has been raging for years in the country and goes beyond the educational field as well as traditional political debates, since the progressive leaders themselves remain divided on this subject.

Last February, after MEPs from the Europe Ecologie-Les Verts political party started using it in their official correspondence, a bill to ban the use of inclusive writing in administrative documents was presented to the Parliament by both Progressive LREM and Conservative Party members. The Republicans party (LR).

On March 23, an LR deputy presented another bill aimed specifically at sanctioning the use of intermediate points in administrations and public services.

Parliamentary debates around these bills are expected to resume in September 2021, and promise to be heated. Meanwhile, many politicians and opinion leaders supporting the change of language continue to use it in their official communication.

These debates are reminiscent of those who surrounded the feminization of trade names, decided by the socialist government in 1986, and which was hardly ever applied in public administrations and schools, until recent years.

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