Sunday, August 05, 2018

Bureaucrats told: use gender-neutral speech

A major Victorian government department is promoting the first Wednesday of every month as "They Day", asking its 10,000 employees to avoid "gendered" language and instead refer to others using neutral pronouns such as "they" or "them".

In a move criticised for pushing political correctness and identity politics under the guise of inclusiveness, the Department of Health and Human Services has issued staff with stick-on badges featuring preferred pronouns and produced a short film to highlight the issue.

In a memo emailed to staff, which has been seen by The Australian, They Day is promoted as a "new recurring calendar event" aiming to create awareness of "gendered pronouns". "Non--binary identities are just as valid as binary gender identities," the email says. "Names don't always correspond to a person's gender. There may be a gap between a person's gender identity and your perception of the person. Saying `they' is more flowing and inclusive than saying `he' or `she'."

An initiative of the department's Pride Network, They Day follows the contentious -release of the government's Inclusive Language Guide in 2016 that discouraged the use of "heteronormative" terms such as "husband" and "wife".

Also aimed at public sector employees, the guide cautioned against assuming that everyone was heterosexual and recommended the use of alternative gender-neutral pronouns of "zie" and hir".

Victorian Equality Minister Martin Foley, a strong proponent of the language guide, declined yesterday to comment on They Day or whether he would encourage its rollout more broadly. A spokeswoman for the department said the Pride Network did not receive government or departmental funding for the event or the film, which features staff from various departments speaking about their preference for neutral pronouns.

"DHHS is proud to be an inclusive workplace," the spokeswoman said.

According to its latest annual report, the department is in the process of working towards achieving a "bronze" employer award in the Australian Workplace Equality Index in recognition of its LGBTI inclusion initiatives.

It is also considering labelling bathroom facilities to meet the specific needs of LGBTI employees who are non-binary, gender-fluid, transgender or intersex. The Pride Network is a volunteer organisation that has previously received one-off department funding to help acknowledge events of significance, such as World Aids Day and the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia.

It is understood that other departments will consider adopting They Day.

Opposition spokesman Tim Smith criticised the initiative yesterday, accusing the Andrews government of being "obsessed with political correctness". "The Department of Health needs to spend more time on running hospitals and less time on gendered pronouns," he said. "When or if they reduce surgery waitlists to zero, then they can worry about `pronoun badges'."

Centre for Independent Studies senior research fellow Jeremy Sammut described the initiative as a push by activists to "enforce speech codes to promote gender ideology".

"If you were speaking directly to someone you didn't know, you wouldn't rudely refer to them in conversation as `he' or `she', let alone `they': you would say `as you said', or `where are you from' which is natural and polite," he said. "They Day is therefore just politicising the language of everyday social interactions to promote the gender ideology and embed identity politics into daily life.

"I therefore think many people will resent this kind of kindergarten-style indoctrination and conscious-raising that is being dressed up as inclusiveness."



Anonymous said...

Normal people do not need to accommodate those with twisted minds !

Bird of Paradise said...

P.C. Stupidity at its most highists these Buracrats need a kick in the rear

stinky said...

To promote diversity, we must all speak the same way, you know....