U of Pittsburgh Declares Words Like ‘Freshman,’ ‘Upperclassmen’ and ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’ to Be ‘Sexist Language’

The University of Pittsburgh says that words like freshman, upperclassmen, ladies and gentlemen, ombudsman, and mankind are “sexist language” to be avoided when writing and speaking.

On a page called “Gender-Inclusive / Non-Sexist Language Guidelines and Resources,” on the school’s website, it says, “misgendering someone is disrespectful and dismissive.” It asks: “Have you ever been called by a name or gender that you don’t identify with?”

“One way to misgender is to assume you know someone’s gender via their appearance and to call them a name or pronoun that they don’t identify with. Misgendering can also occur when you teach as if your entire class is male. The best practice is to use words daily with intention and care,” the website states.

“To avoid unintentionally creating a sexist and homophobic classroom environment, during discussions do not limit yourself to male examples or heterosexual examples. Teachers can and should honor the breadth of experience and potential in students’ lives by discussing women, gender non-conforming, and LGBT- identified people. For example, avoid giving examples that assume that all doctors are men,” it states.

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