Teachers should replace "he" or "she" with new pronouns to refer to children who believe they are transsexual, according to new school rules passed in Vancouver, Canada.
The new words, "xe," "xem" and "xyr," were sanctioned to be used as alternatives to regular pronouns if required by pupils.
Cheryl Chang, the leader of a local school's parent advisory council, warned the policy was a "social experiment that could have long-term negative repercussions."
Parent Ivan Chu also criticized the move: "Parents should have a right to know what is happening with their child."
Commentator Kelly McParland warned: "Parents who questioned the change argued, quite reasonably, that six-year-olds aren't qualified to understand all the intricacies of identity issues. Some of them can't even use the toilet yet."
The policy document, amended and passed by the Vancouver School Board on Monday, says that staff "shall adhere" to the practice for the sake of pupils "whose real or perceived identity is trans."
It describes "trans" as an "umbrella term" covering "people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from what they were assigned at birth."
Right to Dress
It also backs training for teachers to develop a 'gay-friendly' curriculum, and states that children "have the right to dress in a manner consistent with their gender identity or gender expression."
On the issue of sport in school, it notes: "Where possible, students will be permitted to participate in any sex-segregated recreational and competitive athletic activities, in accordance with their gender identity."
Last month, following the Eurovision song contest that was won by a man dressed as a woman, a newspaper columnist criticized the "spreading cult of relativism."
Brendan O'Neill, who is an atheist, said that just because Austria's winning contestant Conchita Wurst wants to be referred to as "she" when performing in a dress, "does that mean we all have to comply with this rather strange demand, no questions asked?"
"Does objective reality—the fact that there are biological differences between men and women, and that the vast majority of humankind decides whether someone is a man or woman by those biological attributes—count for nothing in the face of one person's wish to be known as something he is not?" he asked.
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