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Vermont school drops binary language from health class in favor of gender-inclusive language

Vermont school introduces gender-inclusive language to health curriculum
Vermont school introduces gender-inclusive language to health curriculum 02:19

ESSEX JUNCTION, VT - A Vermont school is sparking controversy after the decision to drop binary language from its health class in favor of "person-first" language that the district said is more inclusive.

At Founders Memorial, fifth-graders are preparing for their unit on science and health about the human body. But instead of saying boy or male, teachers will say "person who produces sperm." In place of girl or female, teachers will say "person who produces eggs."

"By breaking down language to be more inclusive, to talk about what body parts do rather than who people are, it helps young people access the information no matter what identities they hold," Amanda Rohdenburg, associate director of Outright VT, said.  

Outright Vermont, a youth LGBTQ+ organization, helped craft the language which was then approved by the state. Vermont Family Alliance has criticized the decision, calling it confusing and an inappropriate way to approach sex education. 

"Every student should have equal access to scientific reality," Renee McGuinness, a spokesperson, said. "It doesn't matter what their sexual orientation is, it doesn't matter what their gender identity is."  

Parents in the district who agree reached out to grassroots organization Parents Defending Education. The organization said their mission is to shine a light on what they believe are harmful agendas being imposed in schools.

The Essex-Westford District released a statement Friday standing by the language policy. They added the school board will not tolerate any hatred or threats directed at members of the district.

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