France Bans Gender-Neutral Language in Schools, Citing 'Harm' to Learning

France has banned the use of gender-neutral language in schools, citing "harm" to the learning of the French language.

In a decree sent to schools across France, the country's education ministry aimed to end the use of midpoints that designate both masculine and feminine endings to words. As the Telegraph reported, in the French language, nouns reflect the gender of the object they are referring to and the masculine ending is usually dominant.

For example, a group of friends including five women and one man would be written as "amis" but a midpoint would change the spelling of the word to "ami.e.s."

The education ministry's decree seeks to end the use of the midpoint in words, stating that it create confusion in learning the language.

In the decree, Hélène Carrère d'Encausse, perpetual secretary of the French Academy and Marc Lambron, current director of the French Academy, stated that the use of gender-neutral language in schools "harmful to the practice and intelligibility of the French language."

The decree sent to schools across France stated that "so-called 'inclusive' writing should be avoided, which notably uses the midpoint to simultaneously reveal the feminine and masculine forms of a word used in the masculine when it is used in one sense."

"In addition, this writing, which results in the fragmentation of words and agreements, constitutes an obstacle to reading and understanding the written word. The impossibility of verbally transcribing texts using this type of writing hampers reading aloud as well as pronunciation, and consequently learning, especially for the youngest," the decree stated, which was translated by Google.

According to the Telegraph, Nathalie Elimas, France's state secretary for priority education, said that the use of midpoints "dislocates words, breaks them into two."

"With the spread of inclusive writing, the English language—already quasi-hegemonic across the world—would certainly and perhaps forever defeat the French language," Elimas said according to the Telegraph.

France's Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer told the French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche, that the use of midpoints also poses an issue for students with learning disabilities.

French School
Children listen to their teacher as they sit in a classroom on the first day of the start of the school year, at the Chaptal elementary school in Paris, on September 2, 2019. The French education ministry's decree seeks to end the use of the midpoint in words, stating that it create confusion in learning the language. Martin Bureau/Getty

"Putting dots in the middle of words presents a barrier when it comes to teaching the [French] language," Blanquer told Le Journal du Dimanche.

Despite the decree from the education ministry, the French teacher's union, the SUD Education Union, issued a statement criticizing the decree and called for schools across the country to ignore it.

"SUD Education demands from the Minister that he stop trying to impose his backwardness on the educational community. SUD calls on staff to take no account of these instructions from another time, and to exercise as they wish, depending on professional situations, the full use of their pedagogical freedom," the union said in a statement, translated by Google.

Newsweek reached out to the education ministry in France for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.