As a sign of gender equality, dots are used in French. The French Minister of Education finds this notation too complex – and forbids them in schools and in his ministry.
France’s Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer has banned the use of gender-sensitive written language in schools and in his ministry. The reason given in his decree that came into force on Thursday was that the “inclusive” script did not match the rules agreed in the curriculum. At the same time, however, professions and other functions, if they are carried out by women, should in future be named in the feminine form.
Before the Education Committee of the National Assembly, Blanquer defended the measure on Thursday evening. The dot words used to implement gender-sensitive language are too complex and hinder reading and learning the French language, he said.
The minister had previously pointed out how difficult it was to teach French if dots were placed in the middle of words. Especially pupils with a reading-spelling disorder would have a hard time doing it.
From asterisks to dots
The aim of gender-sensitive language is to equate all genders in spoken and written language. While an asterisk is often used for this in German, such as in “politicians”, the French use terms with dots such as “député.es” (parliamentarians) or “électeur.rice.s” (voters) .
The topic divides society and politics. The French education union SUD accused Blanquer of “imposing its own backwardness on the educational community”.
As early as November 2017, the then Prime Minister Edouard Philippe had instructed the French ministries not to use gender-neutral constructions after a school book with gender-neutral expressions had sparked heated debates. The Académie française, the supreme guardian of French, also spoke out against the “inclusive language” at the time. At that time it was also said that it was about the “intelligibility and clarity” of the language.