London North East Railway is slammed for apologising to ‘non-binary’ LGBT unionist who felt conductor’s cheery ‘good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls’ announcement didn’t ‘apply to them’
- The complaint was made by rail workers’ union rep who identifies as non-binary and was travelling on train when manager greeted passengers with the phrase
- An LNER spokesman said staff should not be using ‘language like this’ in apology
- The exchange sparked debate online about whether the term should be banned
A train operator has come under fire after it apologised over a complaint from a non-binary passenger because the conductor greeted customers by saying ‘good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls.’
London North Eastern Railway said in response to the complaint on Twitter that ‘train managers should not be using language like this’ before promising to take action.
The non-binary passenger, who goes by the Twitter name Laurence and uses the pronouns they and them, also states they represent the Rail, Maritime and Transport trade union.
In their complaint, Laurence stated: ‘”Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls…” so as a non binary person this announcement doesn’t actually apply to me so I won’t listen @LNER.’
In response, the train company said: ‘I’m really sorry to see this, Laurence, our Train Managers should not be using language like this, and I thank you for bringing it to my attention.
LNER has come under fire after it apologised over a complaint from a non-binary passenger because the conductor use the phrase ‘good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls’
Laurence, the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union’s LGBT rep, complained to LNER on Twitter prompting an apology from the operator who said staff should not use that type of language
A gender neutral or gender inclusive pronoun is a pronoun which does not associate a gender with the individual who is being discussed.
In the English language, the word ‘he’ is used to refer to males and ‘she’ to refer to females.
But some people identify as neither gender, or both, which is why it is becoming increasingly common for companies to make it easier for people to choose to be referred to by other pronouns.
Instagram, for example, now lets users enter their preferred pronouns on their profile.
It is also a common feature of users’ Twitter and Facebook biographies.
People who are limited by languages which do not include gender neutral pronouns have attempted to create them, in the interest of greater equality.
These include the terms zie and zim instead of he/she and him/her.
Source: The LGBT Resource Centre.
‘Please could you let me know which service you are on and I will ensure they remain as inclusive as we strive to be at LNER.’
The exchange sparked a fierce debate over whether ‘language like this’ should be banned by companies.
A colleague who was with Laurence at the time and is also believed to be a rail worker defended the complaint.
Jarley wrote: ‘Both Laurence and I were customers of the railway – being rail staff does not absolve an operator from the duty of care or responsibility to be inclusive.
‘I was sat with Laurence when this tweet was sent. Both of us are non-binary and we were both alarmed and uncomfortable by the lack of inclusion.’
But Twitter users criticised LNER for their apology and said they felt there was nothing wrong with the friendly greeting.
Mark Jenkinson, the Conservative MP for Workington, said: ‘You’d be forgiven for thinking this Train Manager had unleashed a tirade of abuse.
‘“Should not be using language like this”
‘He’d actually said “Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls”.
‘Identify however you like, but can we stop this nonsense?’
Columnist Paul Embery added: ‘Utterly ridiculous. Do you have any idea how this kind of thing comes across to ordinary people?’
Another Twitter user added: ‘Both WORK for the rail system… but they “won’t” listen to train announcements that don’t “apply” to them?
‘This isn’t a ‘customer complaint’ from a member of the general public — it’s two transport EMPLOYEES pushing their own agenda.’
Colleague Jarley was with Laurence during the announcement and defended the complaint
Others questioned what the alternative would be if train managers wished to remain welcoming and courteous when greeting passengers.
One asked: ‘I am concerned that you say train managers should not be using language “like this”.
‘Can you clarify please? Why are you asking the service this person was on?
‘Do you intend telling the train manager that they are not to use normal language that everybody understands?’
Another added: ‘Well done LNER for sticking up for the Equalities act of 2010, can I just ask what conductors are supposed to say though?
‘Sounds like this one wasn’t following company guidelines, so what SHOULD they have said?’
Hitting back at critics LNER confirmed that the member of staff was not going to get ‘in trouble’ and added: ‘We’re not bending over backward to accommodate any one person, we’re doing our best to accommodate every person. There’s the difference.’
A spokesman confirmed to MailOnline that no action was taken against the member of staff who used the greeting.
In a statement, they added: ‘We are committed to diversity and inclusion in all that we do for our customers, colleagues and communities, and encourage our onboard teams to welcome all customers onboard.
‘Our policies and procedures are reviewed regularly and we will review if any further changes need to be made.’
The RMT Union was contacted for comment.
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