UK teachers have been advised to stop saying female pupils “girls” as it “reminds them of their gender”.
Natasha Devon, the Government’s former mental health tsar, said teachers should instead use gender-neutral language because the terms are “patronising”.
She said “she would never walk into a room in an-all girls’ school and say girls or ladies”.
Ms Devon told the Girls’ School Association’s annual conference: “I don’t think it is useful to be constantly reminded of your gender all the time and all the stereotypes that go with it.
“I think actually in some ways boys are more constrained by the expectation of their gender.
“And whilst that is being challenged and changed I don’t think it’s helpful to keep saying ‘girls, girls, girls, boys, boys, boys’, because there is so much implication that potentially goes with that.”
She urged teachers to instead address children as “pupils”, “students” or “people”.
Ms Devon said the using ‘girls’ could “create a lot of anxiety” among children and teenagers.
While, the term ‘boy’ is linked with “being macho, not talking about your feelings, being told to man up”.
She said taking away “negative stereotypes” could “improve mental health”.
Ms Devon said: “If your narrative is saying girls don’t get angry, or boys don’t cry, or girls aren’t allowed to do this, or boys aren’t allowed to do this, then that is potentially going to have an impact on your well-being.
“So I hope that in taking away the negative stereotypes associated with gender, we can ultimately improve their mental health.”
She warned teachers it was best to avoid gendered terms because there could be transgender pupils in the classroom.
Ms Devon added: “There are some schools I go into that are single-sex schools, but there are transgender students in the year.
“You can’t presume that because somebody presents as a gender that that’s what they are.”