The mayor of the city of Buenos Aires, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, has banned the use of the inclusive Spanish language in schools in the capital.
The move, which has been condemned by a number of supporters of the inclusive Spanish language, a form of expression that teachers say is accepted and widely used, especially by young people.
“We want to simplify the way children learn,” Rodríguez Larreta said at a Friday press conference, outlining his position.
Indicating that he would reconsider his decision, he said that “teachers must respect the rules of the Spanish language because children must master the language as it is”.
According to the mayor – a likely presidential hopeful in 2023 and a key leader of the center-right opposition coalition Juntos por el Cambio – the measure is a response to poor results in language teaching and Spanish literature, such as the illustrate recent tests in teaching establishments.
The decision, which generated a deluge of criticism, was transmitted to all schools in the capital, public and private, through a resolution issued by the city’s Minister of Education, Soledad Acuña.
“Teachers … must carry out teaching and institutional communication activities in accordance with the rules of the Spanish language, its grammatical norms and the official guidelines for its teaching,” the resolution states.
Using “e” to mark non-binary gender will no longer be accepted, nor will “x” or “@” in writing, according to Acuña.
Although it meets with some resistance among adults, inclusive language – which has been pushed by the feminist movement and the LGBT community – is widely used among adolescents and young people. Its use is officially recognized in some Argentine faculties, such as the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Buenos Aires.
“We need to improve [levels] but [the way] is not to ban it”, reacted the Minister of National Education, Jaime Perczyk. He called for “redouble our efforts so that children can learn in better conditions”.
In Argentina, a federal country, the Ministry of National Education defines education policy and monitors compliance with it, but each district is responsible for educational actions.
“Those of us who teach young people know that these new forms are already installed in the classroom and that this in no way prevents comprehension or reading”, commented the writer and doctor of philosophy Tomás Balmaceda in a post on Twitter.
The ban was rejected by teachers’ unions and student centres, who warned it clashed with comprehensive sex education (CSE) and ran counter to the 2012 Gender Identity Act.