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“Language to accommodate a tiny number of people”. Greenwich council staff guide which encourages terms like “people who are pregnant” and “expectant parents” slammed by campaign group

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By Kiro Evans, Local Democracy Reporter

Greenwich council chiefs have reportedly advised staff to stop using words like “family” in Christmas cards to avoid offending people.

A language inclusivity guide for staff warns that colleagues without relatives could be offended by the term.

Staff at the local authority have also been told to try to swerve phrases such as “women who are pregnant” and replace them with “people who are pregnant.”

A freedom of information request found the suggestions featured in an inclusivity guide entitled “Language Matters” produced by the council.

The guide warns against using the term “family” in Christmas greetings as “not everyone spends these celebrations with their biological family or with anyone at all”.

The inclusivity advice reportedly adds that a sentence such as “sending our best wishes to you and your family this Christmas time” should be swapped out with “sending you our best wishes this Christmas time, however you’re spending it.”

Among other guidance in the 42-page document, council staff are also advised to use gender-neutral phrases such as “people who are pregnant” and “expectant parents”.

This should be used in place of words like “women who are pregnant” and “expectant mothers”.

The guide claims: “Not everyone who is pregnant is a woman – people who are non-binary or trans men can also be pregnant.”

Other expressions to steer clear from include calling colleagues “a young and vibrant team”.

The guide says staff should instead consider: “a team made up of people in the early stage of their careers” as it helps to avoid “linking specific attributes to chronological age.”

Helen Joyce, of the campaign group Sex Matters, told the Daily Mail newspaper, which obtained details of the document under freedom of information: “I don’t think this guidance is misogynistic by intent, but its effects could be.

“The language is for the sake of accommodating what is a tiny number of people in this country.

“For the sake of accommodating them, you are making invisible the fundamental differences between men and women.”

A Greenwich council spokeswoman said: “Our inclusive language guide is advisory only, and was designed to encourage staff to reflect on the use of language in the workplace and how it might impact their colleagues.

“We are proud to have a very diverse workforce at Royal Borough of Greenwich, and are committed to making sure that everyone working here feels considered and included.

“Feedback we have received suggests that the advice in the guide has been very well received across the organisation.”

Pictured top: Greenwich council offices

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