News / Calgary

CBE updating mission statement to be gender neutral

Instances of 'his' and 'hers' to be replaced with their

Pedestrians walks past the Calgary Board of Education headquarters in downtown Calgary.

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Pedestrians walks past the Calgary Board of Education headquarters in downtown Calgary.

The Calgary Board of Education is getting ready to update its mission statement to make it gender neutral.

The wording on the document will replace gendered pronouns such as his or hers with their.

CBE Trustee Julie Hrdlicka said it may sound like a small change, but it could make a big difference over time.

"It's just one more piece that's moving us forward in creating safe and caring environments for our kids," she said.

"'His and her' is gender specific and we know now that not everyone identifies with a particular gender. If someone were to read that statement then the message to them is, 'I don't feel welcome because they're not including me in this.'"

The matter was brought up at a meeting on Feb. 6. Administration looked into the cost and found it would cost about $2,500 plus a minimal amount of staff time to have updated mission statements printed and displayed in all CBE schools.

Hrdlicka said the cost was acceptable.

"It's very, very small in comparison with the impact it will have on our students' feelings," she said.

Rebecca Sullivan, Professor of women’s studies at the University of Calgary, said these types of changes draw criticism from "both sides" of the debate, but they are important changes

"They'll with say its not worth doing or its not good enough" said Sullivan

She feels if you can't make the small changes, you'll never address the larger problems of gender inequality.

"if we don’t attend to these little details, then we can’t change the way we think about it," she said.

Sullivan, who counts herself as a grammar nerd, took issue with those who argue that using 'their' in place of gendered pronouns is somehow grammatically incorrect.

"For the grammar nerds among us – they still have the Oxford comma if they need a hill to die on." 

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