Schools in England Say ‘Shut Up’ to Sexist Language

By Ilana Bernstein

Sexist 1

Have you ever heard phrases like “man up” or “throw like a girl” used in context that comes off as insulting or inappropriate? If so, you’re not alone. All over, some people still use sexist language in casual conversation, whether it’s to put down someone else or just tell a joke. At schools in England, though, that sort of language is officially banned.

Recently, England provided new guidelines for its schools, banning all sexist language and inappropriately gendered terms. According to, the Department of Education teamed up with the Institute of Physics to write the new set of rules, called Opening Doors: A guide to good practice in countering gender stereotyping in schools.

Professor Peter Main at the Institute of Physics explains how these words affect our everyday lives:

“Sexist language has a considerable impact, but in our research we found that it was often dismissed as just banter and was much more common than teachers were aware of.”

To make sure these new rules are followed, “gender champions” are appointed among teachers and student volunteers keep an ear out for any inappropriate terms. “Language is a very powerful tool,” explains Janice Callow, deputy head of one of the pilot schools involved. “You have to be so conscious of what you are saying to children.”


What do you think of England’s schools banning gender-stereotyped language? Do kids in your school use sexist terms? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section.

Reprinted with permission from


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