Australian University Push For Gender Inclusive Terms Like ‘Chestfeeding’

February 17, 2021 Updated: February 17, 2021

An Australian University is urging its staff to incorporate  “gender-inclusive” language such as “chestfeeding” rather than “breastfeeding,” and “human milk” instead of “mother’s milk.”

The “Gender-Inclusive Handbook” published last year by The Australian National University’s (ANU) Gender Institute also asks staff to replace traditional terms such as “mother” and “father, with “gestational” and “nongestational” parents, or “birthing” and “non-birthing” parents.

Additionally, when using “masculine generic language” such as “mankind” and “guys”—which is said to legitimise the male student and exclude other gender identities—gender-inclusive language will instead reduce “cognitive and behavioural male biases, combatting stereotypes, and increasing the visibility of gender diverse students.”

“There are links between gender beliefs and language, and the language of a teacher can thus communicate inclusive or sexist/discriminatory attitudes,” the Handbook said.

Additionally, describing student parents as “mother” and “father” will exclude those “who do not identify with gender-binaries,” the handbook states.

Those who make a mistake are advised to “acknowledge it and correct” themselves.

“Language habits take practice to overcome, and students respect the efforts you make to be inclusive.”

While the university’s gender institute concedes that gender-inclusive language is “a more recent social phenomenon,” Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge said the move undermines public confidence in Australian universities instead.

“This is woke rubbish and has the effect of undermining public confidence in our universities,” Tudge told The Daily Telegraph.

“We have great universities who do world-class research and educate thousands of students. This should rightly remain their focus.”

University of Sydney sociologist Associate Professor Salvatore Babones has described ANU’s recommendations as confusing and argues that it doesn’t consider social realities.

“Most people don‘t know what parent’s milk is and would question what it means. If someone said ‘parent’s milk’ they might be looking for a brand of milk named ‘parent’s milk,’” Balbones told The Daily Telegraph.

On Feb. 8, 2020, Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust became the first UK hospital trust to adopt terms “breast/chestfeeding” and “human milk” for its perinatal services.

In addition to the above, the hospital trust replaced “maternity” with “perinatal,” and “maternal consent” with “informed consent.” Parent was replaced co-parent and “second biological parent” were also added.

The hospital’s policy document (pdf) states: “We also recognise that there is currently biological essentialism and transphobia present within elements of mainstream birth narratives and discourse.”

A spokesperson from the Australian National University told The Daily Telegraph the university’s gender institute was not an official policy and that experts were “free to research in their field of expertise under our policies on academic freedom.”

“Students and staff are free to engage with, debate and contest the ideas canvassed in this handbook.”