"Boys and girls,…" What's wrong with that?

One of my colleagues objects when a teacher addresses a group of students as “Boys and girls,…” No, it’s not that she would prefer it if we said “Girls and boys,…”; that’s not the issue, though of course one should try to be at least equitable when using the phrase. In fact, one could argue that it would be best to say “Girls and boys,…” all the time, simply as a corrective measure. But that misses the point: my colleague doesn’t want us to say either version.

At first I was unconvinced. It’s not that I ever use the phrase. I don’t, even with fourth-graders. But to me it sounded harmless and inclusive.

All it took for me to see the light was for this colleague to propose addressing a class as “Blacks and whites,…” or “Jews and gentiles,…” I got the point.

Categories: Life, Teaching & Learning