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10 Jul, 2020 14:52

Inclusive or ‘toxic’ identity politics? BBC encouraging staff to list their ‘trans-friendly’ pronouns – report

Inclusive or ‘toxic’ identity politics? BBC encouraging staff to list their ‘trans-friendly’ pronouns – report

The BBC has become the ground zero of the latest culture-war skirmish, after a report emerged claiming that the news agency has urged employees to share their preferred gender pronouns. The revelation has sparked fierce debate.

The British broadcaster is now encouraging staff to start including their preferred personal pronouns in their email signatures, according to The Times. The advisory, posted to the BBC’s intranet, is meant for all employees: male, female or non-binary. 

Including pronouns at the bottom of emails is a “small, proactive step that we can all take to help create a more inclusive workplace” the guidance reportedly reads. The notice explained that stating whether you would like to be addressed as “he/him,” “she/her” or “they/them” is about “respect.” The idea is to create a culture “where everyone feels comfortable introducing themselves with pronouns,” it reportedly says.

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However, a spokeswoman for the BBC played down The Times’ report, saying the document it cited was “simply a staff article on our intranet” and that the broadcaster “isn’t requiring anyone to do anything.” 

The implications of the alleged advisory split the internet. Some argued that the newspaper had misrepresented the story by claiming in its headline that the broadcaster “advises all staff” to use trans-friendly pronouns.

One employee said she was glad the organization was taking a “small but significant step in the right direction,” even if the article may have overstated the broadcaster’s advisory.

Others were far less complimentary. Sky News Australia host Chris Kenny denounced the move as an example of over-the-top identity politics.

“Identity politics is toxic, let’s get back to the content of people’s character,” Kenny said in a segment about the pronoun policy.

PC culture has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years, with many pointing to its excessive efforts to rid the world of anything that could be deemed offensive. 

Twitter recently announced that it would purge a list of ‘offensive’ terms from its source code and internal documents as a means of expressing its deep commitment to social justice. Terms like “master” and “slave” will be done away with, as will un-inclusive gendered pronouns like "guys." 

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