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Former Gov't Adviser Gets Death Threats For Suggesting Teachers Use Gender-Neutral Language
5 months ago

Natasha Devon describes herself as a "writer, speaker and campaigner," and she used to serve as the mental health advocate in the Department for Education in the UK. Devon also happens to be a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) for her work with young people, and is now a fellow at Prifysgol Aberystwyth University in Wales. She continues to champion mental health issues.

Despite her impressive creds, one of Devon's recent talks has drawn harsh criticism. 

In and hour-long presentation at the Girls’ School Association, Devon spoke briefly about gender and sexuality. She suggested educators consider addressing groups of students with gender-neutral language to promote inclusivity.

In making sweeping assumptions about gender, sexuality and identity we can create a culture in which anyone who deviates from the established archetypes feels excluded from the community and therefore doesn’t have this need fulfilled.

When the suggestion drew severe backlash, Devon took to Twitter:

Oh, look. Here's Devon accepting her MBE from Prince William like NBD:

Devon has garnered a lot of recognition for her work with kids. Here's a list of awards:

  • Cosmopolitan Ultimate Campaigner of the Year, 2012
  • Mental Health Association Business Hero, 2012
  • Ernst & Young’s Top 50 Social Entrepreneurs, 2013
  • Government Body Confidence Awards, Education Category, 2014
  • MBE for Services to Young People, 2015
  • Fellowship, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, 2016

She's rather accomplished, isn't she?

In a column for TES, a teaching resources website, Devon wrote:

I received death and rape threats, messages questioning my sanity, calling me a “f**king idiot”, trying to insult me through the prism of questioning my own gender, calling me fat and ugly, suggesting I should be burned as a witch and, perhaps most offensively, claiming that I am single-handedly responsible for the current poor mental health of British children.

You see, Devon is a woman with opinions, so she has to deal with idiots like this: 

Twitter users had Devon's back, expressing sympathy and support:

And some much-needed humor:

Devon is most concerned about how the incident will cloud the issue she was trying to address. 

I worry that, for the next few months, if my name happens to be mentioned in a pub, or an office, or school the next words spoken will be 'isn’t she the one who says we aren’t allowed to say girls or boys anymore? PC Gone Mad! Nothing wrong with being a girl or a boy!'

Devon contacted Twitter about the messages but was told none of them violated any rules. Let's hope her message doesn't get lost amidst all the hate.