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University of Leeds urges students to avoid ‘he’ pronoun to collectively describe people

A new 12 page pamphlet outlined trans awareness guidance


University of Leeds lecturers have come under fire after urging students and staff to avoid using the collective “he” pronoun to refer to people generally.

Staff have published a 12 page pamphlet titled “From Trans Awareness to Trans Advocacy”, offering guidance to readers on how to approach pronouns, transitioning and transphobic behaviour, Mail Online reports.

In particular, the use of the “he” pronoun, when referencing characters in historic English writing, has been identified as something that should be challenged in lectures and seminars. The leaflet states: “Some published texts, particularly older sources, might use “he/him” to refer to people in general.

“It’s not always possible to use inclusive texts, but you can raise a discussion about the use of gendered language with your group and make it clear that this is not regarded as acceptable or current practice”.

In addition, the publication, which has links to the website of trans charity, Mermaids, encourages staff and students alike to practice using their pronouns in email signatures and video calls, to help “contribute to a safer space for trans people”.

Similarly, it states that it’s “courteous and respectful” for people to interrupt conversations on campus and correct their peers if they hear someone using incorrect pronouns. The pamphlet adds that “allies can play a solidarity role in trans justice, but it’s important that allies recognise the power and privilege they have as cis people”.

A spokesperson for the University of Leeds said the uni is: “committed to promoting and positively encouraging free debate and a wide range of views.

They said: “We strive to maintain an environment of freedom of expression and where individuals are able to challenge ideas and beliefs within a culture of tolerance, dignity and respect for everybody”.

Leeds’ new guidance comes after it emerged that at least seven UK universities are offering separate accommodation for gay and trans students starting their degrees in September.

Sheffield, Cardiff, Bristol, Bath, Southampton, Southampton Solent and Essex universities have said the measure aims to keep LGBTQ+ students safe from “homophobia, biphobia and transphobia” by straight flatmates.

At a national level, the government is also due to provide schools in England with clearer advice on how to approach gender issues, having delayed its own deadline of last week.