New York private school shows students how to refer to non-parental guardians in the most inclusive way
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A private K through 12 school in the NoHo district of Manhattan has become the subject of controversy after handing out a 12-page "inclusive language guide" to its students and parents. But the fact is, there's nothing "controversial" about it.

The sticking point for many was that it asks students and faculty to refrain from using gendered words like "mom," "dad," and "parents," in the school environment because they make "assumptions" about kids' lives at home.

Instead, Grace Church School prefers faculty and students use terms like "grown-ups" or "folks."


"Families are formed and structured in many ways. At Grace Church School, we use inclusive language that reflects this diversity. It's important to refrain from making assumptions about who kids live with, who cares for them, whether they sleep in the same place every night, whether they see their parents, etc.," the guide says.

The school would also prefer students and faculty refer to a babysitter or and nanny as a "caregiver" or "guardian."

The school wants to move people away from using gendered language, so instead of calling groups of students as "boys and girls" or "ladies and gentlemen" they should be referred to as "people," "folks," "friends," "readers," or "mathematicians."

The guide also suggests that people use the correct phrasing when asking about someone's ethnicity. Instead of asking, "What are you? Where are you from?" the question should be, "What is your cultural/ethnic background? Where are your ancestors/is your family from?"

The guide has been the subject of media scrutiny, causing an uproar among some readers of the New York Post who used it as another claimed example of "cancel culture." After all, many parents understandable think that asking their children to refrain from using gendered terms such as "mom" or "dad" is a bit much.

But when you navigate through the misleading information several news outlets took in framing this story, it's clear that Grace Church School was doing the opposite of canceling anyone or anything. Rather, they were opening a dialogue of inclusivity for students who may have single parents, foster parents, different forms of guardians, parents of differing gender identities and so on.

Of course, several parents and educators applauded the decision. A teacher who commented on the New York Post article found the inclusive language guide helpful.

"As an nyc teacher, a large amount of my students are in foster care or live with other relatives. I have made the mistake of calling a foster parent 'mother' to a student," she wrote. "The student defensively said 'she not my mom.' They were obviously so upset. Needless to say I felt awful.

"It takes some practice to not say 'parent', but 'guardian' instead. Guardian is a much better word. There's no need to give further hurt to students who live in uncertain or conventional circumstances," she added.

Those who favor this type of inclusivity would agree with the head of the school, George Davidson who addressed the controversy in a statement.

"The Inclusive Language Guide at issue in the press, which we shared with you this fall, comes from that place in our hearts and mission," read a statement from George Davison, the head of school. "It is designed to help the adults in the community find words to affirm and unite."

On a deeper level, the controversy over the language guide mirrors the current state of American society. It seems as though attempts to make the country more inclusive can sometimes have the reverse effect. In the end, what matters most is whether children at the school are learning and feel loved.

The Grace Church school ranks among the top in private Christian Schools in New York City, so there's no question it's doing right by its students, and that's what matters most.

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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