IU

Indiana University Southeast Indiana University Southeast IU Southeast

Menu Search

Reduce Bias in Language

SHOW RESPECT. GAIN CREDIBILITY.

The Reducing Bias in Language campaign is sponsored by the campus diversity coordinators. The campaign emphasizes guidelines found in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). The guidelines are intended to help the academic community treat others fairly and avoid perpetuating demeaning attitudes and biased assumptions about people in our speech and written communication. Poster messages with examples are listed below. For more information, please contact Campus Life, UC 010, (812) 941-2316.

Be sensitive to issues of labeling people or groups

Examples:

  • Labeling categorizes people as objects. People should be treated with dignity and respect.
  • Instead of gays, use gay men.
  • Instead of the elderly, use older person.
  • Instead of schizophrenic, use schizophrenic people or people with schizophrenia.
  • Other labels considered insensitive include: four eyesdumb blondeghettoinbredJapnerdstonercrippleinvalid, and various other racial or ethnic slurs.
  • Using insensitive terms reinforce prejudice behavior.
Be Sensitive to Labeling

Avoid using historically inaccurate terms; over time, designations can become dated and something negative

Examples:

  • Instead of Negro, use African American.
  • Instead of homosexuals, use gay men or lesbians.
  • Instead of Oriental, use Asian American.
  • Instead of Indian, use American Indian or Native American.
Avoid Negative Terms

Differences should be mentioned only when relevant

Examples:

  • Marital status, sexual orientation, racial and ethnic identity, age, or the fact that a person has a disability should not be mentioned gratuitously. Use gender-free language when possible.
  • Instead of mankind, use humanity or people.
  • Instead of man-made, use artificial.
Differences Mentioned

Call others what they prefer to be called. Don’t know? Ask!

Examples:

  • Make an effort to determine what is appropriate for each situation. Ask people what they prefer, which designations they prefer, particularly designations debated within groups such as African American or blackHispanic or Latino/Latina, and queer or gay.
Call Others What They Prefer to be Called

Use people-first language to create positive attitudes toward people with disabilities

Examples:

  • People with disabilities are people first. Disabilities do not define people. A disability is relative to the degree the individual is supported by the physical and social environment.
  • Avoid “handicapping” language such as strickenboundconfinedvictimdefective, or damaged. Use nonjudgmental terms and phrases that portray an image of dignity and respect. Use patient only when a person is under a doctor’s care.
  • Instead of the crippled, use people with a physical disability.
  • Instead of retards, use people with cognitive or intellectual impairment.
  • Instead of crazy people, use people with a psychiatric disability.
Use People-First Language to Create Positive Attitudes toward People with DIsabilities

Do not use a term perceived as pejorative or derogatory

Examples:

  • If a term perceived as pejorative or derogatory is used, you need to find a more neutral term. Racial slurs are pejorative or derogatory. Abbreviations or series labels for groups sacrifice clarity and may be offensive.
  • Instead of LDs, use people with learning disabilities.
Do Not Use a Term Perceived as Pejorative or Derogatory

Using one group (often your own) as the standard may be perceived as trying to dominate over other groups

Examples:

  • The following phrases may imply one group dominating over another group:
    • Instead of man and wife, use man and woman or husband and wife.
    • Instead of normal woman and lesbians, use heterosexual women and lesbians.
    • Instead of wives, use spouses.
    • Instead of mothering, use parenting.
  • Order of presentation of social groups can also imply that the first mentioned group dominates the later mentioned groups.
  • Instead of white Americans and racial minorities, use racial minorities and white Americans.
  • Referring to a group as deprived implies one group’s culture is universally accepted as the standard over another group’s culture.
Using One Group as the Standard may be Perceived as Trying to Dominate Other Groups

When in doubt, be more specific when describing someone’s background (i.e. nationality, tribe, ethnicity, sexual orientation)

Examples:

  • Instead of Asian American, use Chinese American when nationality is known.
  • Instead of Hispanic American, use Mexican American when nationality is known.
  • Instead of homosexuals, use gay menlesbians, or bisexual individuals when sexual orientation is known.
  • Instead of American Indian, use Shawnee when tribal affiliation is known.
  • Instead of sexual preference, use sexual orientation.
  • Be clear if you mean one sex or both sexes when referring to gender roles. Instead of he, use person or use plural pronouns like their.
When in Doubt, Be More Specific when Describing Someone's Background
Sources:

American Psychological Association (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities (2013). The power of words: A guide to interacting with people with disabilities.

Indiana University (2013). Indiana University style guide.

Campus News

IU Southeast fine arts faculty create video projection for opening night at Churchill Downs

IU Southeast fine arts faculty create video projection for opening night at Churchill Downs

Read more »
IU Southeast faculty honored with IU Trustees Teaching Awards

IU Southeast faculty honored with IU Trustees Teaching Awards

Read more »
Student Conference awards recognize excellence in research

Student Conference awards recognize excellence in research

Read more »
Student Research Focus: Kirsten Black and Christian French bring multidisciplinary view to human trafficking study

Student Research Focus: Kirsten Black and Christian French bring multidisciplinary view to human trafficking study

Read more »
Student Conference presents broad spectrum of IU Southeast academic life

Student Conference presents broad spectrum of IU Southeast academic life

Read more »
Professional development is focus of inaugural adjunct faculty scholars conference

Professional development is focus of inaugural adjunct faculty scholars conference

Read more »
Student Research Focus: Morgan Heldt-Davis investigates population genetics and natural selection in moths

Student Research Focus: Morgan Heldt-Davis investigates population genetics and natural selection in moths

Read more »
News Item Image

State Rep. Ed Clere earns IU Southeast Chancellor’s Medallion

Read more »
See all news » Submit a News Story »

Diversity Events

African American Choral Ensemble Spring Concert image

African American Choral Ensemble Spring Concert

April 30th, 2016

All day event

Jewish American Heritage Month image

Jewish American Heritage Month

May 1st, 2016

All day event

Pascha (Eastern Orthodox)  image

Pascha (Eastern Orthodox)

May 1st, 2016

All day event

Asian Pacific Heritage Month image

Asian Pacific Heritage Month

May 1st, 2016

All day event

12th Day of Ridvan (Bahá'í) image

12th Day of Ridvan (Bahá'í)

May 2nd, 2016

All day event

National Hispanic Heritage Month image

National Hispanic Heritage Month

September 15th, 2016

All day event

National Disability Employment Awareness Month image

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

October 1st, 2016

All day event

Diwali/Deepavali (Hindu) image

Diwali/Deepavali (Hindu)

October 29th, 2016

All day event

American Indian Heritage Month image

American Indian Heritage Month

November 1st, 2016

All day event

Human Rights Day image

Human Rights Day

December 10th, 2016

All day event

African American History Month image

African American History Month

February 1st, 2017

All day event

See All Events »