A top official in the German state of Bavaria criticized attempts by universities to have students use gender-neutral language, calling it a difficult demand because German nouns are gendered.
“Bavaria is a free state, not an indoctrination state,” chief minister of Bavaria and Christian Social Union party leader Markus Söder told a Bavarian newspaper. “Anyone may use language however they want, but everyone should make sure to show sensitivity and respect in their language.”
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He also said professors should not give poor grades to students who do not follow university dictums regarding gendered language and said the Bavarian government would investigate university policies on the subject.
“You should be able to go on saying ‘mother' and 'father,’” Söder said. “You don’t have to say 'parent one' and 'parent two.' I don’t want to be addressed by my children as 'parent.'”
Many German nouns have distinct forms depending on if they refer to male or female subjects.
For example, male voters are “wähler,” and female voters are “wählerinnen,” with the masculine form used to refer to voters in general. As gender equality and awareness of people who identify as transgender or nonbinary have increased, some German institutions have shifted toward more inclusive language, which could lead to using both the masculine and feminine forms of a noun or creating a hybrid or neutral word.
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This shift is more evident in Germany’s left-wing politics, and some conservative institutions have pushed back.
CSU, a conservative Bavarian party aligned with Catholic social teaching, voted 96% to condemn “politically indoctrinating, artificial excesses of gender-moralising language acrobatics” at a party convention, according to the London Times.