Easthampton HS
East Hampton High School swapped out the term "freshman" in order to promote gender inclusivity. Google Maps

One Massachusetts school has decided to drop the word “freshman” from its vocabulary in order to be more gender inclusive. East Hampton High School said it would henceforth refer to ninth graders as “first years.”

“For the purpose of class meetings and activities, including the class dues, students will be considered first years, sophomores, juniors and seniors,” the high school’s handbook said, according to MassLive.

The recommendation was put forth by the student composed Gender and Sexuality Alliance Group, WHDH-TV reported. East Hampton’s School Committee approved the decision to change the language and hoped it would lead to a more inclusive environment.

“The change to gender neutral language was a simple, sensible way to foster a more inclusive and equitable environment and was in concert with the many transformations underway at our district,” Marissa Carrere, policy subcommittee chairwoman, told The Republican.

The school noted it would not ban students from using the term “freshman” but that alternate usage would be encouraged to promote inclusivity. The decision came after an investigation into apparent racial discrimination at the school, conducted by the Massachusetts Attorney General's office, WWLP reported. The investigation led to the hiring of a school diversity officer as well as training to promote inclusion and diversity.

Also included in the upcoming year’s student handbook were guidelines to prevent bullying, sexual harassment and discrimination.