‘Mother’ and ‘father’ banned from school forms. Picture: Sara D Davis/AFP
‘Mother’ and ‘father’ banned from school forms. Picture: Sara D Davis/AFP

Words ‘mother’ and ‘father’ banned

A change to a law in France will see schools unable to refer to a child's parents as their "mother" or "father" on school documents, instead the titles will be replaced with "parent 1" and "parent 2".

The amendment was passed in parliament as part of the country's Schools of Trust law and aims to reduce the discrimination faced by same-sex parents.

"To prevent discrimination, school enrolment, class registers, parental authorisations and all other official forms involving children must mention only Parent 1 and Parent 2," the amendment reads.

French President Emmanuel Macron's Republique en Marche party backed the change, with MP Valérie Petit saying this amendment of the wider law recognises "children's family diversity in administrative forms".

School documents will now list parents as either parent 1 or parent 2.
School documents will now list parents as either parent 1 or parent 2.

"We have families who find themselves faced with tick boxes stuck in rather old-fashioned social and family models," Ms Petit said.

"For us, this article is a measurement of social equality."

Supporters of the change claim that using gender-neutral language on school documents relating to parents is a natural step after the country legalised gay marriage six years ago, The Telegraph reported.

Federation for the Council of Secondary School Parents praised the government for encouraging equality for all parents.

"It echoes the (recent) law on fighting harassment because often situations of child harassment target kids who don't fit the current criteria," the organisation said.

But not everyone was impressed with the amendment, with conservatives and Christian groups arguing the phrase parent 1 or 2 "dehumanises" parents.

A number of conservative MPs denounced the change, calling the amendment "frightening" and claiming it disrespected heterosexual parents.

"When I hear people say this is an old-fashioned model, I would remind people that today among unions celebrated, civil or marital, some 95 per cent are man-woman couples," MP Xavier Breton said.

This isn't the first time the idea of replacing the words mother and father with more inclusive language has been suggested.

The subject was raised during the 2013 debates held before same sex marriage was legalised in France, though no legal change came from it at the time.

There are fears that the new titles could pit couples against each other over who gets to be parent 1.

Supporters of the amendment saying it is a step in the right direction for being inclusive of same-sex parents.
Supporters of the amendment saying it is a step in the right direction for being inclusive of same-sex parents.

It isn't just right-leaning groups that have concerns over the consequences this change could have, with AFDH, the French association for same sex parents claiming it could create a

"parental hierarchy".

While the AFDH welcomes more inclusive language in schools, the organisation's president Alexandre Urwicz, pointed out that the change had the potential to cause unnecessary rifts between parents.

"Who is 'parent number 1' and who is 'parent number 2'?" Mr Urwicz asked.

He suggested that instead of getting rid of mother and father completely another option, like "legal representative", should be available on forms.

The amendment is part of a wider law that also makes school attendance mandatory for all three year olds.

There is still potential for the change to be rejected by the majority-Senate and if this happens it would return to France's National Assembly for further consideration.



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