Commonwealth Games mascot Borobi.
Commonwealth Games mascot Borobi.

Gender-neutral words to make Games more inclusive

VOLUNTEERS at the Gold Coast's Commonwealth Games have been told not to use phrases such as "ladies and gentlemen" and "boys and girls" to avoid causing offence.

In a gold medal for political correctness, the official Commonwealth Games orientation training handbook calls on volunteers to use gender-neutral language.

The instructions have been slammed as "political correctness gone insane".

The handbook, given to 15,000 volunteers and official staff and contractors, dubbed Games Shapers, instructs those at the Games to call people parents, rather than mothers or fathers, and partners, rather than husbands or girlfriends.

The handbook attempts to make sure everyone is catered for.
The handbook attempts to make sure everyone is catered for.

Some of the instructions are born of a desire not to offend people identifying as transgender.

"Use gender-neutral or gender-inclusive language," the 88-page handbook said.

"This can involve discouragement of the use of gender-specific job titles, such as policeman/policewoman, instead using police officer.

"Swapping gendered words for gender-neutral ones can make everyone feel included," the book said.

"This also demonstrates our understanding that not everyone identifies as heterosexual or cisgender.

"We can avoid words like guys, girls, ladies and gentlemen, and instead use words like students, everyone, folks and all."

The handbook also offers a lengthy list of instructions to avoid causing embarrassment to the physically impaired.

Games volunteers such as Liz McCleary have received an 88-page handbook.
Games volunteers such as Liz McCleary have received an 88-page handbook.

The instructions tell volunteers to refrain from calling para-athletes "extraordinary or superhuman", while athletes without impairments should not be referred to as able-bodied.

"Some community members oppose the use of 'able-bodied' because it implies that people with accessibility requirements lack 'able bodies' or the ability to use their bodies well," the guidebook said.

"(Also) it can be embarrassing for them to be referred to as 'extraordinary' or 'superhuman'…. Para-athletes don't consider themselves more unique or overachieving than any other athlete."

Games volunteers and staff have also been ordered not to tuck their shirts in, not to ask for autographs or selfies, and not to express their opinions on politics or social issues.

Opposition Commonwealth Games spokesman John-Paul Langbroek said the lengthy list of dos and don'ts risked making volunteers too scared to open their mouths for fear of offending someone.

"This is political correctness gone insane," he told The Sunday Mail.

"We have everyone willing to take offence at every little thing that people say.

"It makes it really hard for well-meaning volunteers who would be on edge worried about every word they say to every group they meet. It's very frustrating."

Today, Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington today dubbed the manual "lefty overreach".

Volunteers were giving up their time and should be trusted to use their common sense when speaking with international visitors, she said.

"As long as people are respectful, let Queenslanders be Queenslanders," Ms Frecklington said.

Despite the manual, the Opposition Leader urged people to still put up their hands for the international event, which was Queensland's time to shine for the world.

"Let's just get on with the job and welcome the people from around the world into this beautiful state of ours," she said.

Acting Commonwealth Games Minister Di Farmer said it was important that everyone was catered for.

"We are looking forward to welcoming thousands of international visitors to Queensland for the Games and we want to ensure everyone has a great experience," Ms Farmer said.

"We recognise our 15,000-strong volunteer army who will help ensure we put our best foot forward.

"The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games will be the most inclusive Games ever with the same number of men's and women's medals and the largest para sport program ever."

A spokesperson for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Corporation (GOLDOC) said: "The volunteer training materials are necessarily extensive as we set out to meet the many needs of every person who will be involved in GC2018," they said.

The spokesperson also said GOLDOC had not received any feedback from Commonwealth Games volunteers on the issue.

News Corp Australia

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