Students told to use gender-neutral terms, otherwise their marks will drop

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Students at Hull University will have lower marks for their essays if they use gendered pronouns like ‘he’ or ‘she’ instead of gender-neutral ones. A course on religion at the university warned participants that using language which is not “gender-sensitive” bring them closer to punishment case by case. A professor on a course about religious activism told students that “language is important and highly symbolic. In your essay, I thus expect you to be aware of the powerful and symbolic nature of language and use gender-sensitive formulations. Failure to use gender-sensitive language will impact your mark.” A senior lecturer in religion at Hull supported this stance, saying: “Language is powerful and we place a high emphasis on gender-neutral language on our courses. Should any student use language which is not deemed gender neutral, they will be offered feedback as to why. Deduction of marks is taken on a case by case basis.” This is not the only educational institution to introduce gender-neutral language policy. Cardiff Metropolitan University encourages students to use its “gender-neutral term” checklist, which includes alternative terms – for instance, ‘efficient’ instead ‘workmanlike’. Bath University also advises students that it’s preferable to use neutral alternatives to ‘mankind,’ such as ‘humanity’ or ‘people.’

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