The city of Buenos Aires prohibits inclusive language in schools
A student leaves the Provincia de Córdoba school, in Buenos Aires, in February 2021.
A student leaves the Provincia de Córdoba school, in Buenos Aires, in February 2021.MARCOS BRINDICCI (Getty Images)

No more kids, not everyone, not welcome in the schools of the city of Buenos Aires. The Government of the Argentine capital announced this Friday the prohibition of inclusive language in all classrooms. The reason, according to the mayor of Buenos Aires, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, is to “simplify the way children learn” and thus reverse the significant drop in reading comprehension detected during the pandemic. National authorities and teachers’ unions criticize the measure.

Teachers “must develop teaching activities and carry out institutional communications in accordance with the rules of the Spanish language, its grammatical norms and the official guidelines for its teaching,” says the resolution, which comes into force this Friday. The use of “e” to mark the plural or non-binary gender, as in the case of “friends” or “alumne”, is prohibited. In writing, the “x” or the “@” sign cannot be used either.

Although resisted by many adults, the use of inclusive language is widespread among adolescents in Buenos Aires. About a dozen Argentine universities officially recognize it, including some faculties of the University of Buenos Aires.

For now, Buenos Aires tertiary education will be the only one where it will remain. The ban reaches kindergartens and primary and secondary schools, both public and private.

“At school you have to respect the Spanish language because the indexes show that it is urgent; We cannot waste another day,” Rodríguez Larreta said at a press conference, referring to the results of the latest evaluation on Language carried out at the end of last year. Two out of ten secondary school students were unable to solve activities on short texts in simple language, 64% more than in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic forced schools to close for more than a year.

“Teachers have to respect the rules of the Spanish language, both when they are in front of the classroom and when they address the children or their families in communications,” warned the mayor of Buenos Aires, seconded by the Buenos Aires Minister of Education, Soledad Acuña . The head of the educational portfolio assured that it is not “a witch hunt” but that they intend to “teach better so that the children learn”.

Acuña also responded to criticism from the teachers’ unions, which consider that the ban “deploys new forms of violence towards those children and youths who do not recognize themselves in the masculine or feminine as constitutive of their identity,” according to the statement released by the Union of State Workers (UTE). “We do not ask unionists for permission to make decisions on educational matters, we make decisions based on evidence and consulting specialists,” said Acuña.

In 2021, after a year with schools closed in Argentina, the need to reopen them or not became one of the biggest points of contention between the mayor of Buenos Aires, of the center-right alliance Together for Change, and the president. Argentine, the Peronist Alberto Fernández. In Argentina, a federal country, each province is responsible for educational actions.

The resolution on inclusive language has once again shown the discrepancies that exist between the two political parties. Both the Argentine Minister of Education, Jaime Perczyk, and the Minister of Women, Gender and Diversity, Elizabeth Gómez Alcorta, were against Rodríguez Larreta’s decision.

“It is necessary to improve but [el camino] it’s not prohibiting,” Perczyk replied. “Schools must be inclusive and democratic environments that respect freedom and diversity. Nothing good is learned from a ban,” Gómez Alcorta also criticized on Twitter. One thing is the law and another its application, some teachers have also questioned. They question the ability to put that resolution into practice, especially in those schools where inclusive language is more widespread.

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