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In Argentina, One of the World’s First Bans on Gender-Neutral Language

The city government in Buenos Aires, the nation’s capital, last month banned teachers from using any gender-neutral words during class and in communications with parents. The city’s education minister said such language violated the rules of Spanish and stymied student’s reading comprehension.

Gender-neutral language has scandalized linguistic purists. The Royal Academy in Spain, considered by many as the gatekeeper of the Spanish language, described the use of “e,” “@,” and “X” — which are used in place of the “o” and “a” that often signify a word’s gender — as “alien to the morphology of Spanish” in a 2020 report.

Jaime Perczyk, Argentina’s education minister, compared the measure to prohibitions against left-handed writing under the fascist dictatorship of Francisco Franco in Spain. “They thought they were correcting something, but it goes much deeper,” he said, explaining that students use gender-neutral language as a tool to fight sexist attitudes prevalent in Argentine culture.

“It just makes you feel really bad,’’ said Agostina Fernández Tirra, 17, who identifies as nonbinary and attends a public school in Buenos Aires. “They put us all in the same box — you are either female or male. Those of us in the middle, who are neither male nor female, it’s like they don’t even consider you.”

“Language is something that’s always being modified. It’s alive because we are alive — and it will keep on changing.”


The world is arching towards greater inclusivity and rational thinking versus exclusivity rooted in prejudice. Those who fear, resist, and seek to repudiate this movement on the grounds of pre-existing norms are, whatever else they may be, bigots refusing to let others into the privilege of being able to be seen and regarded in ways that respect and reflect their right to self-identify with authenticity and integrity.



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