Buenos Aires sued for banning gender-neutral language in schools

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Authorities in Buenos Aires are being sued for their attempt to ban neutral words in schools, a sign that the culture war on inclusive language could spread to South America.

Last month, Argentinian city officials became among the first in the world to ban teachers from addressing students as “chic@s”, “chiqxs” or “chiques” – non-gendered words that were increasingly becoming more common instead of male “chicos”. which is used for mixed groups.

But social advocacy groups and political groups have since taken the local government to court over the issue, arguing that the ban violates basic human rights such as freedom of speech and the right to determine one’s gender and excludes people who do not identify as male or female.

“The city government could not explain how banning the use of a non-exclusive language in schools would not violate municipal and state laws,” said María Rachid, founder of the Argentinian LGBT Federation. , one of the civil rights groups involved, after the first court hearing last week.

“We are completely confident that we will win the case.”

Children get confused

Local authorities say the terms are confusing for children and have argued they could be linked to a recent drop in test scores.

Other examples include “amigues” instead of “amigos” (friends), “todes” or “todxs” instead of “todos” (all), and “bienvenid@s” instead of “bienvenidos” (welcome).

A transgender teacher in the Palmero neighborhood of Buenos Aires has pledged to continue using gender-neutral terms as a form of protest, despite threats of disciplinary action from the city government.

Argentina’s national education minister weighed in last month, saying the decision was sexist, unfair and comparable to the ban on writing for left-handed people under Franco’s military dictatorship in Spain.

Much of the debate around gender-neutral Spanish comes from the United States, where it has become another political dividing line between liberals and conservatives.

Delicate problem in the United States

In July, Republican congresswoman and inflammatory conservative María Elvira Salazar introduced a bill that would prevent the US government from using the terms “Latinx” or “Latin-x” – alternatives to Latino/s – in government documents intended for to the public.

Critics accuse “Latinx” proponents of linguistic imperialism by imposing the academic language of white and privileged people in the United States on people of color in Latin America.

Argentina generally leads the region in social rights and is considered one of its most progressive nations, but some 70% of Argentines said in June they oppose the use of more inclusive forms of Spanish.


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