College requests 'grammatically incorrect' gender-neutral language

Sarah Lawrence College wants all official school publications to adhere to a set of “Gender Neutral Language Guidelines” that prohibit the use of terms such as “brotherhood” and “mankind.”

While the guidelines specifically apply only to “publications and policy statements whose primary audience is enrolled students” at the college, the document does make clear that “reducing unnecessary gender reference in all materials is ideal.”

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In an effort to avoid confusion, the guidelines recommend including disclaimers on all gender-neutralized materials stating that “Sarah Lawrence College has chosen to make exception to select grammatical rules (i.e. pronoun agreement).”

The guidelines go on to suggest the usage of “plural non-gendered pronouns to replace singular gendered pronouns,” even while acknowledging that the technique is “grammatically incorrect,” explaining that “when absolutely unavoidable” the “exception” can be acknowledged “in the note recommended above.”

Meanwhile, the “recommended guidelines” suggest avoiding “conditional sentences introduced by if or when,” because such sentences often “require the use of pronouns.”

The guide concludes with a list of “gendered words” to avoid “by using substitutes instead,” suggesting, for example, terms such as “kinship” or “solidarity” in place of “brotherhood,” and neutral phrases like “nurturing” or “fostering” instead of “fathering” and “mothering.”

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Finally, Sarah Lawrence discourages the use of “language referring to sexual orientation,” noting that “orientation” should always be used in place of “preference.”

The college offers other pointers such as “avoiding heterosexual references,” not “using the word homosexual,” and an inexplicable guidance to “not use adjectives such as acknowledged, admitted, or avowed.”

Campus Reform contacted Sarah Lawrence for additional comment on the matter, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

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