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Culture Jan 24, 2022 9:27 AM EST

University 'inclusive language guide' claims 'grandfather' and 'housekeeping' are 'problematic words'

The University of Washington IT Department released an "inclusive language guide" in December that labels ordinary words like "grandfather" and "housekeeping" as problematic.

University 'inclusive language guide' claims 'grandfather' and 'housekeeping' are 'problematic words'
Katie Daviscourt Seattle, WA

The University of Washington released an "inclusive language guide" in December that labels ordinary words like "grandfather" and "housekeeping" as problematic, Fox News reports. The guide is specifically for use in the IT department.

"As creators and editors of website content," the introduction reads,
we have a responsibility to carefully consider the language we use in our documentation and its impact on the diverse community we serve at the University and beyond. Therefore, we are accountable for ensuring racist, sexist, ageist, ableist, homophobic, or otherwise non-inclusive language are not within the materials and resources online."

According to the guide, the word "grandfather" is considered problematic because it was "used as a way to exempt some people from a change because of conditions that existed before the change." The guide explains that the concept of the "grandfather clause" originated in the American South in the 1890s in order to "defy the 15th Amendment and prevent black Americans from voting." The guide concludes that the word therefore shouldn't be used.

The guide went on to explain that the word "housekeeping" is problematic because it can "feel gendered." The phrases "manpower," "man hours," or "man-in-the-middle" are also allegedly "sexist," according to the guide.

The word "lame" is labeled as problematic because it is "ableist" and that the word "minority" shouldn't be used because it implies a "less than" attitude toward a certain community.

The University of Washington IT Department explained why they created the guide on their website which states, "As a major educational institution, it's imperative that we remain committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, and one place to start is how we communicate to those who visit our websites. This guide shows our commitment to ensuring our organization, and our websites, continually show respect for everyone."

UW-IT said that they have joined IT organizations at universities around the country that are involved in activities "to replace racist, sexist, ageist, ableist, homophobic or otherwise non-inclusive language scattered throughout materials and resources in the software and information technology fields."

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