Using Inclusive Language

Using Inclusive Language

Language is fluid. Terms or phrases that were mainstream decades —or even just a few years—ago are no longer appropriate in our discourse.

As communicators, it’s of the highest importance to keep up with that flow, adjusting our words and expressions in order to address subjects and audiences respectfully. Demonstrating this respect means avoiding terms that are demeaning to races, genders, the disability and LGBTQ+ communities, and using terms that are inclusive.

ProWritingAid can support you in your efforts toward inclusive writing. Though high scores are usually what we work for in life, with this goal, strive for a score of zero, which indicates you have kept your work free of potentially offensive terminology.

## Some Inclusive Language Reminders

  • Only include references to race, gender, disability, or LGBTQ+ identities when doing so is relevant to your communication.

  • Whenever possible, ask your subject/s or audience their preferred terms. There are diverse points of view within communities.

  • Do not use slurs or epithets in your communication. While some communities have reclaimed words once used to demean them, if you are not part of that community, those words are not yours to use.

  • Stay Up-to-Date. Words and language will continue to evolve. Be proactive and stay current by reading from and listening to the words of people in underrepresented communities.

Person-First and Identity-First Language

In person-first language, the person comes before a diagnosis, race, or sexual orientation. Identity-first language places the disability, race, or sexual orientation first, as an identity category.

Person-first: a person with Autism

Identify-first: an autistic person

Person-first: a man who is gay

Identity-first: a gay man

In the recent past, person-first language was considered more respectful. However, for many (though not all) people in underrepresented communities, identity-first is preferred as it acknowledges race, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc. as a core element of their identity, not as something that “happened” to them or that they have to “deal with.”

Language Matters

Using inclusive language, and avoiding demeaning language, is just part of being a good human, so we’ve got to do our best to use words respectfully!

On a practical level, using inclusive language shows your employees, potential employees, customer, clients, and audience-at-large your respect for people. In turn, they will respect and appreciate your company, services, or products.