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England Just Took A Huge Step To Eliminate Gender Bias In Schools

No more 'man up' or 'don't be a girl.'

by Katie Kausch

Starting soon, telling someone to "man up" or "quit acting like a girl" could land you in hot water in English schools.

The "Opening Doors project," put together by the Institute of Physics and promoted by the UK Department of Education and the Government Equalities Office, aims to eliminate gender biased language -- and, in the process, to eliminate gender stereotypes in education.

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Teachers in 10 pilot schools have begun to receive training on sexist language, the same way they are trained in what constitutes racist or homophobic language. Teachers are also instructed to "refrain from making any remarks about how difficult they find particular subjects," and inform all students equally of a subject's "relative difficulty," according to the IOP's report. The hope is that the program will eventually be brought to all English schools, with the end goal of seeing more girls participate in STEM classes and more boys participate in humanities classes.

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​"[Girls] who take physics are sometimes described as 'lesbians' and boys who take languages as 'sissy,'" Dame Barbara Stocking, a British public servant, told the Sunday Times about the impact of gendered language in academics. "Is it a coincidence that boys are more than four times as likely to take A-level physics as girls are? Or that twice as many girls studied English A-level as boys last year?​"

"We used to say ‘Man up, cupcake’. We’ve stopped that. Saying ‘Don’t be a girl’ to a boy if they are being a bit wet is also unacceptable," Anice Callow, Deputy Head of one of the pilot schools in the program, Fairfield High School, told the Sunday Times. "Language is a very powerful tool. You have to be so conscious of what you are saying to children."

MTV News has reached out to Fairfield High School administrators for comment on the program.