Choosing Inclusive Words
First Steps for Using Inclusive Language
USE GENDER-FREE PHRASING
Talk in a way that does not specify a gender, sex, or sexual orientation unless it is pertinent to the comment.
e.g.,“Good morning everyone.” instead of“Good morning boys and girls.”
e.g., “Students should turn in their papers.” instead of “Each student should turn in his/her paper.”
USE LANGUAGE FOR ALL FAMILIES
Refer to a student’s “family” and “parents” instead of “mom and dad” to include students who may have single, step or LGBTQ+ parents, or alternate guardians.
e.g.,“Please tell your parents or guardian.” instead of “Please tell your mom and dad.”
EXPAND YOUR VOCABULARY
SOGI-related vocabulary is always evolving. Do not hesitate to ask questions about and get clarity on respectful language for talking about sexual orientation and gender identity.
The glossary below is from the Ministry of Human Services (see Appendix A, pages 11-13)
Changing School Experiences
First Steps to Inclusive Schools and Classrooms
RESPOND TO “THAT'S SO GAY!”
It’s important to always speak up. Your SILENCE says “this is not a safe place” or “don’t count on me.”
Practice your favourite response and consider the examples below.
e.g., “Gay” refers to a group of people. LGBTQ+ people and their loved ones are all around you. Most of them (and many others) are offended every time they hear this.”
e.g.,“Say what you mean without trashing other people - That’s so stupid, That’s so weird, That’s so boring!”
e.g., Draw a parallel to other forms of discrimination - “How would people react if you said, “That’s so Asian!” or “That’s so Jewish!” every time you thought something was awful?
e.g., “Do you mean, That’s so great! Because I have gay friends, and they’re great.”
USE INCLUSIVE SOCIAL CATEGORIES
When providing instructions or explanations, use social categories that speak to all students.
e.g., Divide students into groups based on birthday month, rather than by “boys and girls.”
BE VISUALLY WELCOMING AND INCLUSIVE
Make your school, classroom, or office welcoming for LGBTQ+ students.
e.g., Display an LGBTQ+ rainbow sticker/safe space sticker or flag.
e.g., Display SOGI-supportive materials, such as posters, quotes from famous LGBTQ+ icons, information about the LGBTQ+ community, and materials from LGBTQ+ organizations.
See the Safe Space Initiative for downloadable materials.
INCREASE AWARENESS AND ACCESS
Make it easy for students to learn about and talk about SOGI issues.
e.g., Have SOGI-themed books in the library, along with posters promoting them to students.
e.g., Celebrate LGBTQ+-related awareness days, in addition to months of celebration such as Black History Month or Women’s History Month (see “Dates to Remember” on the Links page).
Saying “No” to Exclusion
Two Actions that Make All the Difference
Let students know that your school and classrooms are safe and welcoming places where they can ask questions and be themselves.
Address comments that are heterosexist or gender-identity biased when you hear them, and educate others on ways they can be more inclusive in their language.