Public University Identifies ‘Problematic’ Words Such as American, Mothering and Healthy

The University of New Hampshire has released a “Bias-Free Language Guide” to help students navigate the “complicated” task of language.

The extensive guide, published to the public university’s website, identifies “problematic” and “outdated” words and offers less offensive alternatives. As originally reported on by Campus Reform, that lengthy list of words include: American, mothering, fathering, Caucasian, foreigners, homosexual and healthy — among many others.

“Universities are places to look at the world in new ways,” the guide states. “As a university organization, we care about the life of the mind. We offer this guide as a way to promote discussion and to facilitate creative and accurate expression.”

An American flag flies outside of the University of New Hampshire. (Image via the University of New Hampshire/Facebook)
An American flag flies outside of the University of New Hampshire. (Image via the University of New Hampshire/Facebook)

“An integral part of UNH’s mission is to continue to build an inclusive learning community, and the first step toward our goal is an awareness of any bias in our daily language,” the guide said. “As we begin to understand bias, we explore the truths of hierarchy and oppression. When we free ourselves of bias, we are thus affirming identities that differ from our own.  When we do not affirm another person’s identity, we are characterizing an individual as ‘less than’ or ‘other.’ This makes them invisible, and for some, it feels like a form of violence.”

But even though the guide is published on the university’s website, UNH President Mark W. Huddleston told TheBlaze that he was “troubled” by some of the content in the guide and stressed that it was not mandatory nor university policy.

“I am troubled by many things in the language guide, especially the suggestion that the use of the term ‘American’ is misplaced or offensive,” Huddleston told TheBlaze. “The only UNH policy on speech is that it is free and unfettered on our campuses. It is ironic that what was probably a well-meaning effort to be ‘sensitive’ proves offensive to many people, myself included.”

The guide claims that using the word “American” is “problematic” as it can either be taken to only refer to North America or can provide the assumption that the United States is the only country in both continents.

Students are encouraged to avoid the terms “mothering” or “fathering” as  to “avoid gendering a non-gendered activity.” Similarly, students are encouraged to use “other sex” instead of “opposite sex,” and “children who are gender non-conforming” as opposed to “girlie” or “tomboy.”

“Obese” and “overweight” should be replaced with “people of size,” according to the guide.

“‘Obese’ is the medicalization of size, and ‘overweight’ is arbitrary; for example, standards differ from one culture to another,” UNH’s guide states. “Note: ‘Fat,’ a historically derogatory term, is increasingly being reclaimed by people of size and their allies, yet for some, it is a term that comes from pain.”

“Healthy” is also problematic and should be replaced with “non-disabled.”

“Mentally ill” is encouraged to be replaced with “person with a psychiatric disability,” and “midget” should be replaced with “someone of short stature.”

When it comes to illegal aliens versus undocumented immigrants, the latter is preferred although still problematic as it “lacks recognition of the person’s humanity first.” Instead, students should use the terms “person seeking asylum” or “refugee.”

But even though the guide is published on the university’s website, UNH President Mark W. Huddleston told TheBlaze that he was “troubled” by some of the content in the guide and stressed that it was not mandatory nor university policy.

Erika Mantz, director of media relations for UNH, also told TheBlaze that the guide isn’t any mandatory university policy. It was created in 2013 by community members, she said.

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