The University of Manchester has told its staff that using words such as “elderly”, “OAPs”, “pensioners” and “youngsters” is “ageist”, and to “actively avoid” using those terms. Employees at the university have been asked in new guidance to refer to the over-60s as “mature individuals”, “older people” or simply “learners” in order to “actively avoid ageist terms”. The advice, which was published in its guide to inclusive language in 2021, tells staff not to use age “as a means to describe an individual or group where it is not relevant”.
It also makes clear the university “actively avoids” using terms such as the ones listed above, and instead opts to use terms that are “objective”.
The advice says: “Only include age if it is relevant, for example with initiatives that are only available for a particular age group.
“Don’t use age as a means to describe an individual or group where it is not relevant, such as ‘mature workforce’ or ‘young and vibrant team’.
“We actively avoid ageist terms such as ‘elderly’, ‘OAPs’, ‘pensioners’ or ‘youngsters’, instead using terms that are objective.”
A University of Manchester spokesman said the guidance is aimed at encouraging the use of “more inclusive language to avoid bias or assumptions and not to talk to people in ways they might perceive as disrespectful”.
The advice is in line with the university’s “values and commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion” and believes this approach follows “most other organisations”.
The spokesman told The Telegraph: “Our guidance document encourages the use of more inclusive language to avoid bias or assumptions and not to talk to people in ways they might perceive as disrespectful.
“This is in line with our values and commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion. We believe it is entirely right for us to communicate with people in the most appropriate and respectful way we can.
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Elements of an 18-page inclusive language guide published in The Sun suggest council workers should not refer to disabled or able-bodied staff.
They also say that the common introductory phrase “Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen” should be replaced with “Good afternoon, everyone”.
It reportedly argues: “People who are not ‘ladies’ or ‘gentleman’ may recognise the difference, feel included and that they belong.”
Other words and phrases the paper said were called to be banned included “Caucasian”, “foreign people”, “expat” and “the homeless”.
Also out were “mum and dad”, “second generation”, “economic migrant”, “deprived neighbourhood” and “low-skilled worker”.
The LGA said: “Councils are committed to ensuring that everyone is treated with dignity and respect. This guide is designed to help councils ensure everyone is supported and respected when they look to their local public services for help.”