France to replace 'mother' and 'father' with 'Parent 1' and 'Parent 2' on school forms

A city view shows the French flag above the skyline of the French capital as the Eiffel Tower and roof tops are seen in Paris, France, March 30, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS/BENOIT TESSIER

School forms in France are set to go gender neutral after the French parliament voted to replace the words 'mother' and 'father' with 'Parent 1' and 'Parent 2'.

The new terms are being introduced following changes to the country's education laws passed by President Emmanuel Macron's majority REM party this week that also make school attendance mandatory for three-year-olds. 

The removal of les pères and les mères in official paperwork within the education system is being brought in to stop discrimination against same-sex parents, The Times reports, but it does not have the backing of the education minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer.

'This amendment aims to root in law children's family diversity in administrative forms submitted in school,' said REM minister Valérie Petit.

'We have families who find themselves faced with tick boxes stuck in rather old-fashioned social and family models. For us, this article is a measurement of social equality.' 

The changes are yet to be approved by the Senate but the French upper house is not expected to block the measures.

But concerns have been raised and not only by conservatives. 

Alexandre Urwicz, president of the Association of Homoparental Families, said it could lead to a hierarchy of parents. 

'Who is 'parent number 1' and who is 'parent number 2'?' he said, adding that it might be less controversial to use 'father, mother and legal representative' instead. 

Conservative MP Xavier Breton suggested the change did not reflect reality. 

'When I hear people say this is an old-fashioned model [to use 'mother' and 'father'], I would remind people that today among unions celebrated, civil or marital, some 95 per cent are man-woman couples,' he said.

Conservative MP Xavier Breton went further in his criticism, saying it was indicative of a 'frightening ideology'. 

Laurent Wauquiez, leader of the opposition Republicans party, said 'mother' and 'father' would be reinstated if his party wins the elections. 

'Our citizens do not share anything with the political class nor the policies they are imposing,' he said, according to The Times.

Ludovine de la Rochère, leader of the Catholic Demonstration for All, which protested against the introduction of same-sex marriage, called the new terms 'absolutely dehumanising'.

'Children need guidance,' she said. 'This amendment goes towards the disappearance of fundamental references.'

The debate has continued on Twitter where some people mocked the terms 'Parent 1' and 'Parent 2'.