The Wake County Public School system in North Carolina will no longer use the term “grandfathering” because, you guessed it, it purportedly has a racist background. The school system agreed to make the change after one parent—one—complained. That parent, Lucy Hughes, recently directed a tweet at the school district: “PLEASE do not use racist language and DROP the term ‘Grandfathering clause’ for new high schools […] The term has roots in suppressing black voters. Language matters! DO BETTER! Our students are watching. FIX IT.”
The district promptly turtled and responded by pledging that it will cease using the term beginning next year. District spokeswoman Lucy Luten (what’s with all the Lucies?) noted that the word is not “inclusive,” as its origins lie in post-Civil War voting rights. Southern states supposedly created “grandfather clauses” to exempt white voters from certain new voting regulations.
Here is the Wikipedia definition of grandfathering or “grandfather clause:” A grandfather clause (or grandfather policy or grandfathering) is a provision in which an old rule continues to apply to some existing situations while a new rule will apply to all future cases. Those exempt from the new rule are said to have grandfather rights or acquired rights, or to have been grandfathered in.
Use of the term is still very common. School districts use it to describe situations in which existing students are excluded from new rules, regulations, mandates and laws, such as when they are allowed to keep attending their current school after “redistricting” changes, etc.
Woke Wake County School system should make the change
immediately, whereas Lucy Luten proudly noted that “Wake
has moved to be more inclusive in recent years, such as recognizing Indigenous
Peoples’ Day and moving to expand anti-discrimination protection for
transgender students and school employees.”
Labeling “grandfathering” as racist is absurd. It is like saying the terms “underground railroad” and “moonshine” are racist because they were used during a time when blacks were discriminated against in the South.
I am sure there are those who think “grandfathering” is misogynistic, as well, and that there should be an official, state-approved, gender-neutral version to describe the father of one’s father or mother. And, similarly, a gender-neutral term to describe one’s father and mother, too. And…oh, f*ck it.
If hyper-woke and gender-neutral terms are ever mandated for general use, I hope there will be a grandfather clause excluding me from compliance.