BERLIN — The German state of Bavaria on Tuesday banned the use of gender-sensitive language in classrooms and university lecture halls, the latest salvo in an often-rancorous debate about whether the German language should become more inclusive.

The Bavarian state government approved amendments to regulations governing the use of German in all public institutions, including schools and universities, German news agency dpa reported.

Some Germans want their language to evolve to become less male-dominated. For example, some people and organizations have begun deploying a pause or symbol in the middle of plural nouns and favor the feminine word for people to reflect gender diversity.

However, conservatives accuse progressives of trying to force clunky and unnecessary change on citizens, including those who want to stick to more conventional forms.

The amended Bavarian regulation expressly forbids state authorities from inserting a pause, asterisk or colon - all signifiers of inclusivity - into a noun, in official documents and correspondence or during lessons. It was unclear whether teachers or other state employees would face penalties for breaking the rules.

Florian Herrmann, a senior aide to conservative Bavarian premier Markus Soeder, said the promotion of gender-sensitive language was driven by ideology and risked having an exclusionary effect on those who didn't adopt it.

“For us, the message is: language must be clear and understandable,” Herrmann said. “But it is also about keeping open the space for discourse in a liberal society.”

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