What was once considered best practice may no longer be, as words long considered neutral by some may be construed as offensive or perpetuating stereotypes by others.
A guide meant to facilitate inclusion through the use of our everyday language was released by York Region last month. The Inclusive Language Guide provides guiding principles for mindful communication free of prejudicial terms, names or phrases to promote equality and respect in the region.
“As we strive to build a community where everyone feels welcome and their contributions are valued, we need to be deliberate in the language we use, both as individuals and as an organization. That’s why an inclusive language guide is valuable,” said Newmarket mayor John Taylor in an emailed statement.
The guide is made up of two sections and covers a wide variety of topics ranging from immigration status, disability, mental health, marital and family status, gender, sexual orientation, income status, race and ethnic backgrounds, religion and more.
The first section is guiding principles, such as questions to ask yourself and the types of things to be cognizant of when choosing phrases or terms.
Each category in the second section starts off with key regional facts followed by examples of both problematic and preferred terms.
Blue Door serves a diverse group of community members every day and the use of inclusive language is imperative for creating a safe space for its clients and volunteers along with staff and stakeholders, said Amanda Palermo, director of human resources at Blue Door.
“We understand and acknowledge that inclusive language allows an open and respectful space for all people, it acknowledges differences amongst individuals and celebrates those differences while also providing equitable opportunities for all.”
According to the region’s website, language respectful of everyone demonstrates that each person has value in a region where “diversity is celebrated and where everyone can develop to their full potential, participate freely in society and live with respect, dignity and freedom from discrimination.”
The online guide was developed as a result of Inclusion Charter for York Region and it will be updated regularly to reflect the constant evolution of language.