A college decreed that all student publications should avoid using gendered language, such as the pronouns “he” or “she” and terms like “mankind” and “fathering.”
“Where possible and appropriate, use second person (you, your, yours),” says Sarah Lawrence. “Second person not only eliminates gender reference, but also makes the copy more personal and engaging.”
The college proceeds to offer an example of a problematic sentence, “Each student must obtain his or her parking permit the first week of the semester,” followed by “You will need to obtain your parking permit the first week of the semester.”
Instead of the phrase “his or her father or mother,” Sarah Lawrence proposes using “a parent.” Conditional sentences beginning with “if” or “when” are also discouraged because they “often require the use of pronouns.”
After establishing a more sensitive sentence structure, the college instructs students to “eliminate generic use of gendered words by using substitutes instead.”
“Mankind” can be exchanged for “humankind,” “manpower” can be switched out for “work force,” “mothering” can be replaced with “nurturing,” and “colleague” can take the place of “sir.”
In the last section of its language guidelines, Sarah Lawrence tells students to avoid using “homosexual” and instead apply “the more inclusive LGBTQ community as appropriate.”
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