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Massachusetts school ditches term ‘freshman’ to be more gender inclusive

Ninth-graders are typically called freshmen, but one Massachusetts school wants to ditch the term in attempt to be more gender inclusive. 

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Easthampton High School is asking students and officials to replace the word with “first year students,” a move recommended by the Gender and Sexuality Alliance Group at the school. After the organization looked through the handbook, it identified titles that were more gender neutral, landing on “first year students.”

The booklet now reads, "For the purpose of class meetings and activities, including the class dues, students will be considered first years, sophomores, juniors, and seniors." 

It is a "simple, sensible way to foster a more inclusive and equitable environment, and was in concert with the many transformations underway at our district," Marissa Carrere, the school committee policy subcommittee chairwoman, Marissa Carrere, told The Republican.

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While students aren’t banned from using “freshman,” the school hopes to create awareness about gender equality.

The changes also come after Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey conducted a months-long investigation that revealed racially-biased discipline practices and bullying at the school.

The school underwent diversity and inclusion training and added a diversity officer to its staff. 

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