Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta has banned the use of inclusive Spanish language in schools across the capital.
The move, which was condemned by a number of proponents of inclusive Spanish language, a form of expression that, according to teachers, is accepted and used widely especially by young people.
"We want to simplify the way children learn," Rodríguez Larreta told a press conference on Friday, laying out his position.
Indicating that he would roll back his decision, he declared that "teachers have to respect the rules of the Spanish language because children have to master the language as it is."
According to the mayor – a likely presidential hopeful in 2023 and a key leader of the centre-right opposition Juntos por el Cambio coalition – the measure is a response to the poor results in language teaching and Spanish literature, as illustrated in recent testing in educational institutions.
The decision, which generated a barrage of criticism, has been transmitted to all schools in the capital, both state and private, by a resolution issued by City Education Minister Soledad Acuña.
"Teachers ... must carry out teaching activities and institutional communications in accordance with the rules of the Spanish language, its grammatical norms and the official guidelines for its teaching," the resolution states.
The use of "e" to mark a non-binary gender will no longer be accepted, nor will "x" or "@" in writing, according to Acuña.
Although it has meet with some resistance among adults, inclusive language – which has been pushed by the feminist movement and the LGBT community – is widely used among adolescents and young people. Its use is officially recognised in some Argentine faculties, such as the Social Sciences Faculty of the University of Buenos Aires.
"It is necessary to improve [levels] but [the way] is not to ban it," reacted National Eduction Minister Jaime Perczyk. He called for a "redoubling of our efforts so that children can learn in better conditions."
In Argentina, a federal country, the National Education Ministry sets education policy and monitors compliance, but each district is responsible for educational actions.
"Those of us who are teachers of young people know that these new forms are already installed in the classroom and that this in no way impedes comprehension or reading," commented writer and doctor of philosophy Tomás Balmaceda in a post on Twitter.
The ban was rejected by teachers' unions and student centres, who warned that it clashes with Comprehensive Sex Education (ESI) and opposes the Gender Identity Law of 2012.