Hesse’s Prime Minister Boris Rhein (CDU) has defended a gender ban in schools and universities in Hesse that the CDU and SPD are seeking. For him, it’s “not about culture wars and identity politics, but about the fact that the Council for German Spelling has set rules that make it easier and simpler to read texts,” said the CDU state leader Rhein to the German Press Agency in Wiesbaden.

The CDU and SPD are currently negotiating a new Hessian government coalition. According to a joint “key points paper”, they want to “stipulate” that in state and public institutions such as schools, universities and broadcasting, gendering with asterisks and internal Is will be avoided – while being guided by the German Spelling Council.

“I don’t want to tell anyone how they speak,” said Rhein. “But I think it’s important that no one at a university or school receives worse grades in a homework or an exam because, for example, they don’t use the gender asterisk.” He experiences “enormous support” for this from many citizens.

However, the intended gender ban in Hesse has also met with a lot of criticism. The Jusos, for example, are threatening not to agree to a black-red coalition agreement. Its parent party, the SPD, has not previously been known for pushing for gender bans.

In his own words, Rhein finds it difficult to listen to or read gender forms. He himself often uses couplets such as “citizens”. With “bulky” gender special forms, however, many would be excluded. “This is the exact opposite of inclusion,” said the Prime Minister.

The German Spelling Council initially decided in July not to classify gender symbols as a core component of German orthography. In a new addition, the council also lists the gendering inside the word – colon, underscore and asterisk. However, these are still not regular characters.

“Key points paper” from the CDU and SPD in Hesse