'Don't say boy or girl': Games volunteer handbook bans un-PC phrases

commonwealth games surfboard on gold coast
The Games are set to take place on the Gold Coast this year. Image: Getty

The Gold Coast Commonwealth Games are here and they’re ready to tow the politically correct line until the end.

That’s right ladies and gentlemen, or folks as volunteers have been instructed to call you, the official Games Shapers volunteers handbook has been sent out and it has some very specific instructions for those who have offered to lend a hand.

The Courier Mail reports that phrases such as “ladies and gentlemen” and “boys and girls” have been discouraged to avoid causing offence.

Volunteers have also reportedly been told to call people parents, rather than mothers or fathers, and partners, rather than husbands or girlfriends.

The handbook advises using “gender-neutral or gender-inclusive language” to make everyone feel included.

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“We can avoid words like guys, girls, ladies and gentlemen, and instead use words like students, everyone, folks and all,” the 88-page book says.

The book also offers advice on how to talk about para-athletes, explaining that words like “superhuman” and “extraordinary” can be embarrassing for those who don’t think of themselves that way.

“Some community members oppose the use of ‘able-bodied’ because it implies that people with accessibility requirements lack ‘able bodies’ or the ability to use their bodies well,” the guidebook said.

“(Also) it can be embarrassing for them to be referred to as ‘extraordinary’ or ‘superhuman’…. Para-athletes don’t consider themselves more unique or over achieving than any other athlete.”

Opposition Commonwealth Games spokesman John-Paul Langbroek told The Sunday Mail the rules would have volunteers running scared lest they offend someone.

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“This is political correctness gone insane,” he told the paper.

Reaction to the handbook is rolling in on social media with many poking fun at the PC-friendly phrasing.

“Tourist at the Commonwealth Games: Excuse me. Can you please tell me where the Ladies Bathroom is? Volunteer: I’m sorry. I don’t speak English. What do you mean by Ladies?” wrote one Twitter user.

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“Oh stop it. As a lady I’m offended that I can’t be called that anymore. I’m starting a protest. Gonna stand angrily in front of doors until a nice gentleman opens it for me. Then I will smile and say thank you,” added another. 

“So how are they going to describe the 200 “men’s” freestyle or the “women’s” 200 breaststroke give me a break,” one woman wrote.

Queensland opposition leader Deb Frecklington told The Sunday Mail the handbook was over the top and said Games organisers should “let Queenslanders be Queenslanders”.

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There has been a more substantial shift in recent years towards the use of inclusive language in the workplace and throughout society more broadly.

While many support the shift to a more accepting and open environment, there are concerns from some that it has gone too far in some cases.

What are your thoughts on this?