‘No clapping’, ‘no gender-specific terms’: Australian schools under fire for controversial bans

It’s been a strange week for Australian schools, as two Sydney schools were criticized for implementing policies deemed questionable by the public.

Teachers at Cheltenham Girls High School in northwest Sydney have allegedly been asked to refrain from calling their students “girls”, ladies”, or “women”, reported The Daily Telegraph on Tuesday.

Instead, they were asked to use gender-neutral ­language – such as referring to students as, well … “students” – as is prescribed by the Safe Schools program in order to erase gender differences and discourage bullying.

During a staff meeting, it was implied that by using gender-specific language, teachers could be seen to be breaching the law and could be at risk of being sued by LGBTI students.

However, when asked to comment, a spokesman from the New South Wales Department of Education told news.com.au that gender-specific terms could still be used by teachers at the school.

“Gender-specific terms will continue to be used by Cheltenham Girls’ High School when referring to students,” they said, refusing to comment further as the department has been asked to look into the claims.

On the school’s Facebook page, a post was made in response to the allegations: 

Meanwhile, Elanora Heights Public School announced a “no clapping” policy in its latest newsletter, according to the BBC.

According to the school, the new rule was introduced to respect “noise-sensitive” students, and to also “reduce fidgeting”.

The newsletter said: “If you’ve been to a school assembly recently, you may have noticed our students doing silent cheers.”

The school suggested that instead of clapping, “students are free to punch the air, pull excited faces and wriggle about on the spot”, adding that teachers may also “prompt the audience to conduct a silent cheer if it is needed”.

In response to the announcement, Australian journalist Miranda Devine commented: “Insane political-correctness has come into our schools. What are they meant to do – jazz hands?”

However, since the report came out, the newsletter has been taken down from the school’s website. 

Previously, hugs and Australia Day celebrations have also faced bans at schools in the country.

Image via Flickr.

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