(He/him) and woke culture…
By Mark Hindley, Deputy Head (Pastoral)

I read an interesting article the other day on the weaponisation of the term “woke” – and it reminded me of heated discussions I have had in the past with friends whose view was that political correctness was somehow an invidious influence.

Unashamedly, I believe in the power of language, and in the importance carried by statements of intention. This is why I disagree with the naysayers of political correctness, and in the same way I view being called woke as something positive, rather than as an insult.

How we speak to and about each other is crucial, and we need to embrace the fact that the terms that we should use have changed, and will change, with time. I wish I could say I always get it right – I don’t – but hopefully we would all cringe at some of the terms and attitudes that used to be mainstream years ago. Rather than viewing changing language as intimidating, instead we should embrace these changes as a chance to challenge our opinions, to check ourselves for bias, conscious or unconscious, and see changes in terminology as an opportunity to reinvigorate our desire to be inclusive.

It is this last aspect that is so crucial. Are we as individuals – and as a community – creating an environment of inclusivity? Are we creating a space where people can express their differences and celebrate diverse views, opinions and backgrounds? Are we establishing a culture in which pupils and staff are empowered to be different to the person sitting next to them, rather than feeling judged, or feeling under pressure – spoken or unspoken – to conform to a type?

It was for this reason that I am very thankful to our Equality Committee for challenging us on whether or not we should include pronouns (he/him, she/her, they/them) on our email footers. Including this is not about my name, it is a public signal that I want to welcome and support everyone in their gender identity, whatever that choice may be.

Some people may call me woke for doing that: if they do, I would take that as a compliment.

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