Manhattan School Releases Guidelines Promoting Inclusive Language

The private Grace Church School posted a 12-page guide for its students and their families. The head of the school spoke with CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez.

Video Transcript

KRISTINE JOHNSON: New guidelines at a Manhattan school focusing on using more inclusive language. Welcome back, I'm Kristine Johnson.

MAURICE DUBOIS: I'm Maurice DuBois. The private school posted a 12 page language guide for its students and families.

KRISTINE JOHNSON: It suggests using words like "grown-up" or "guardian" instead of "parents," and also using "people" or "folks" instead of "boys" and "girls." The head of the school spoke to CBS 2's Hazel Sanchez.

HAZEL SANCHEZ: Grace Church School, an independent school in Greenwich Village, prides itself in welcoming students of all faiths or no faith at all. But now, it's finding itself facing criticism for encouraging words that promote an inclusive environment, like saying "people" instead of "boys" and "girls," and "grown-up" instead of "parent," since not all children are being raised by a mother and/or father.

One person tweeted, "Grace Church School in New York should be ashamed of themselves saying that you can't use the words "Mom" and "Dad," and you're supposed to use "folks" or "family." George Davison is head of Grace Church School.

GEORGE DAVISON: We're not telling people not to call their parents "Mom" and "Dad." That's the silliest thing anybody ever came up with. And it's not even a word police. It is really, rather, a guide to inclusive language if you want to use it.

HAZEL SANCHEZ: Back in September, the school posted this inclusive language guide at the request of teachers and parents who wanted help in making sure their interactions were affirming and uniting. Parents we spoke with say they're supportive of the guidelines and proud the school is also describing best practices for discussing faith, learning differences, and physical disabilities. Like choosing the words "physically disabled" instead of "handicapped."

NATALIE EGAN: We can't lump people together and assume anything about people. And that's at the core of what this is about.

HAZEL SANCHEZ: Natalie Egan is the founder of Translator, which builds diversity, equity, and inclusion analytic software for schools. She applauds Grace Church's pioneering spirit.

NATALIE EGAN: As we look to the future, you know, it's really important that we start to, you know, shape our future leaders to-- to be inclusive of all people regardless of-- of anything.

GEORGE DAVISON: Whoever they are, it is what we're proud of.

HAZEL SANCHEZ: And Grace Church School hopes to inspire others to unify and not divide. In Greenwich Village, Hazel Sanchez, CBS 2 News.

KRISTINE JOHNSON: The head of the school emphasizes these are guidelines, not rules. And the guide also suggests inclusive language for discussing sexual orientation, race, and socioeconomics.