Inclusive Language

As a welcoming and inclusive organization we ask that you consider using equitable and inclusive practices in language and practice at Convention and in preparation for program sessions (and hopefully in your everyday lives). It is especially significant to consider inclusive practices when creating a program session. As members of society, we have been surrounded by problematic language and practice throughout our lifetime. These continual problematic messages become part of our everyday interactions, and we begin to miss the boundaries of inclusive and exclusive practices. Fostering inclusive practices requires a willingness for growth and acceptance of failure. As educators, we do not expect perfection and hope that this opens the door for continued conversations on how to provide space for everyone in our environments.

Below are a few areas to consider when developing the language and presentation of your program:

  • Ableism: language that refers to able-bodied actions or using language that uses a disability as a descriptor. Is your program mindful in speech of people with various abilities?
  • Racism: language that discriminates based on race or ethnicity or promotes one race as superior to others. Does your program promote one race as superior or make assumptions about race or ethnicity?
  • Gendering & Sexism: language that uses gender terminology in reference to people, uses gendered terms, focuses on a gender binary, or uses societal standards of gender. Does your program make specific assumptions based on gender or sex?
  • Religious Implications: language that is not mindful of various religious & non-religious identities or religious practices. Does your program make reference to any specific religion to the exclusion of others?
  • Stereotypes: language that reinforces stereotypes about various individuals and is not based on fact. Does your program reinforce any stereotypes?
  • Economic Assumptions: practices that refer to monetary requirements or reference makes assumptions regarding economic accessibility. Is your program mindful of all SES levels?
  • Ageism: language that reinforces age disparity. Does your program make any assumptions based on age?
  • Hierarchical Barriers: be conscious of language that reinforces often inequitable hierarchical systems in which we often operate, and thus create and foster barriers. Does your program reinforce barriers already in the system?
  • Accessibility: use language that is accessible to anyone and is not specific to any educational level, background, identity, or exclusive entities. Will the language in the program be understandable to all individuals?
  • Derogatory Expression: language that is used in a negative way, especially that which focuses negativity towards another. Does your program focus on derogatory remarks?
  • Language in Jest: language that is used non-literally in a comical or satirical way. Does your program use serious matters for satirical appeal?
  • Historical Context: reflect on the historical context of the word choice and themes within your presentation. Are you providing an accurate portrayal of history that is mindful of all people and using word choices accordingly?
  • Cultural Significance: language that is significant to a culture that is not your own or using culturally significant language in a way that is exclusive of others. Does your program make use of cultural phrasing that is not your own?
  • Specificity: use language that is specific and clear to allow for transparency, understanding, and accuracy. Will the language in your program be clear to individuals outside of your mind?
  • Various Populations & Backgrounds: people come into these spaces from a variety of experiences and an array of identities so it is important to be mindful of triggering language & presentation. Does your presentation have content that could be triggering for certain populations?

The above statements do not mean that we can always create a space for all people all the time. We are still learning & growing. We will mess up, and we will need to engage in tough conversations. But there are ways to avoid these exclusive practices. Below are a few helpful tips:

  • Use pronouns during introduction & ask others’ pronouns
  • Verbalize all text
  • Use the microphones that are provided
  • Limit color in presentations
  • Limit physical activity during sessions
  • Provide large print on handouts
  • Be mindful of the audience
  • Give trigger warnings when appropriate
  • Continually engage in personal reflection and check your privilege
  • Engage in dialogue and ask questions
  • Be willing to engage in dialogue around how we can and should do better