US taxpayer-funded program teaches Sri Lankan journalists to state pronouns, avoid ‘binary-gendered language’

FIRST ON FOX: A US taxpayer-funded program that aims to advance media ethics in Sri Lanka has launched an extensive campaign that teaches journalists to actively state their gender pronouns and to avoid “binary-gendered language.”

The Media Empowerment for a Democratic Sri Lanka (MEND) project, which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has published at least four presentations related to gender and other LGBTQ issues in recent weeks.

On Thursday, MEND’s Facebook page posted a presentation titled, “Gender Pronouns,” Facebook, which tells Sri Lankan journalists to never “assume another person’s gender identity or their gender pronouns” and to “apologize if you called someone by the wrong pronoun.” It also instructs them to “normalize the sharing of gender pronouns by actively sharing your own” and to “avoid binary-gendered language such as ‘ladies and gentlemen.'”

“Using the correct pronoun when talking to someone is a way of showing your respect to the other person’s gender identity,” the presentation states. “Those who do not conform to the gender identities assigned by society and do not fit into the binary genders can face uncomfortable situations when interacting with others when they are referred to by the wrong pronoun.”

The Media Empowerment for a Democratic Sri Lanka, which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development, advises Sri Lankan journalists on 'how to use gender pronouns correctly.'

The Media Empowerment for a Democratic Sri Lanka, which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development, advises Sri Lankan journalists on ‘how to use gender pronouns correctly.’
(Facebook screenshot/Media Empowerment for a Democratic Sri Lanka)

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On Oct. 13, MEND posted a presentation titled, “What is Gender Expression?”, which declares that a “person’s gender identity cannot be assumed based on anatomy or appearance.”

“Gender is a social, psychological, and cultural construct. It is developed in the process of socialization,” MEND claims in the presentation. “Gender is not necessarily defined by biological sex: gender is more about identity, and how we feel about ourselves. People who do not exclusively identify as male or female are often grouped under the umbrella terms, ‘non-binary, or ‘genderqueer, ‘ but the range of gender identifications is unlimited.”

The Media Empowerment for a Democratic Sri Lanka (MEND), which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has launched a campaign that teaches about gender pronouns, gender expression and gender-inclusive language.

The Media Empowerment for a Democratic Sri Lanka (MEND), which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has launched a campaign that teaches about gender pronouns, gender expression and gender-inclusive language.
(Facebook screenshot/Media Empowerment for a Democratic Sri Lanka)

On Oct. 7, MEND posted a presentation titled, “What are Gender Roles?”, which advises “how not to impose gender stereotypes on your child,” which includes giving both girls and boys a “wide range of toys to play with, eg trucks, dolls, action figures and building blocks.”

USAID promoted the gender roles presentation on Oct. 11.

MEND posted a presentation in September about using “LGBTQ+ sensitive language in reporting,” which tells Sri Lankan journalists, “Do not use phrases such as ‘born a girl,’ or ‘born a boy.’ ‘Sex assigned at birth’ is the correct phrase to use. For example: ‘Ravi is a transgender man.’ Do not say: ‘Ravi was born a woman.'”

“Improve accuracy by asking your subjects about their preferred pronouns,” MEND advises.

The Media Empowerment for a Democratic Sri Lanka, which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development, teaches Sri Lankan journalists that

The Media Empowerment for a Democratic Sri Lanka, which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development, teaches Sri Lankan journalists that “gender is not necessarily defined by biological sex.”
(Facebook screenshot/Media Empowerment for a Democratic Sri Lanka)

USAID helped launch MEND in August 2017, with a total projected cost of $7.9 million. The program is set to run until at least April 14, 2023, according to the grant summary on USASpending.gov. USAID’s last payment for the program, which is overseen by the International Research & Exchanges Board, was for $1,910,000 on May 17, 2021.

To date, MEND has received $7,906,904 from USAID.

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A USAID spokesperson told Fox News Digital on Tuesday that MEND “has reached over 24,000 Sri Lankan citizens through media literacy activities to help Sri Lankans access balanced, reliable, and objective news.”

“MEND works to improve media organizations’ internal management and operations; strengthen journalists’ capacity to provide informed, impartial, and ethical reporting on key policy issues; and help the media to serve as a forum for national dialogue,” the spokesperson said.