Stanford locks ‘harmful language’ guide which cautioned calling US citizens ‘American’: ‘missed the mark’

Stanford University locked a “harmful language” guide that outlined words and phrases it planned to eliminate from its website and computer code, limiting access to only people with an internal login.

The Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative is a Stanford University project that was announced in May, and aims to “address harmful language in IT at Stanford,” according to the website.

According to the guide, its goal is to eliminate “many forms of harmful language,” which includes “racist, violent, and biased (eg, disability bias, ethnic bias, ethnic slurs, gender bias, implicit bias, sexual bias) language” that is in the Stanford website and codes, and also aims to educate others on the impacts words can have.

After pushback from the guide, Stanford University made the webpage accessible to only people with an internal login.

STANFORD RELEASES GUIDE TO ELIMINATE ‘HARMFUL LANGUAGE,’ CAUTIONS AGAINST CALLING US CITIZENS ‘AMERICAN’

A view of Hoover Tower and the Stanford University campus seen from Stanford Stadium.

A view of Hoover Tower and the Stanford University campus seen from Stanford Stadium.
(David Madison/Getty Images)

The guide has 10 “harmful language” sections: ableist, ageism, colonialism, culturally appropriative, gender-based, imprecise language, institutionalized racism, person-first, violent and additional considerations.

Included in the words considered harmful is “abort,” and the guide states that it should be replaced with “cancel” or “end,” citing concerns surrounding the word “abortion.”

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Stanford University on a phone

Stanford University on a phone
(Getty Images)

The guide also states that the word “American” should be replaced with “US Citizen,” explaining that “American” is used when discussing “people from the United States only, thereby insinuating that the US is the most important country in the Americas.”

Another word that the guide considers harmful is “preferred’ pronouns,” explaining that “preferred” suggests “non-binary gender identity is a choice and a preference.”

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After pushback from the guide, Stanford University made the webpage accessible to only people with an internal login.

After pushback from the guide, Stanford University made the webpage accessible to only people with an internal login.
(Reuters)

In a statement to Fox News Digital, a spokesperson for Stanford University told Fox News Digital “Stanford’s style guidelines are meant for internal use, often for individual workgroups. In this case, the EHLI website was specifically created by and intended for use within the university IT community. It will continue to be refined based on ongoing input from the community.”

In a Tuesday message, Steve Gallagher, Stanford’s chief information officer, said that the website isn’t university policy.

“First and importantly, the website does not represent university policy. It also does not represent mandates or requirements. The website was created by, and intended for discussion within, the IT community at Stanford. It provides ‘suggested alternatives’ for various terms, and reasons why those terms could be problematic in certain uses. Its aspiration, and the reason for its development, is to support an inclusive community,” Gallagher said.

He also said that they “missed the mark” when it came to the guide’s treatment of “American.”

“We have particularly heard concerns about the guide’s treatment of the term “American.” We understand and appreciate those concerns. To be very clear, not only is the use of the term ‘American’ not banned at Stanford, it is absolutely welcomed. The intent of this particular entry on the EHLI website was to provide perspective on how the term may be imprecise in some specific uses, and to show that in some cases the alternate term “US citizen” may be more precise and appropriate. But, we clearly missed the mark in this presentation,” he said