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

Kentucky Refugee Ministries college prep event returns to IU Southeast

Kentucky Refugee Ministries college prep event returns to IU Southeast

Read more »
School of Business Golf Scramble: students, faculty and local business leaders tee off for success

School of Business Golf Scramble: students, faculty and local business leaders tee off for success

Read more »
Poster by design faculty Kok Cheow Yeoh wins international recognition

Poster by design faculty Kok Cheow Yeoh wins international recognition

Read more »
Chemist Victor Waingeh unlocks secrets of traditional medicine in his native Cameroon

Chemist Victor Waingeh unlocks secrets of traditional medicine in his native Cameroon

Read more »
News Item Image

IU Southeast Library to receive statue immortalizing the Lewis & Clark Expedition

Read more »
Morgan Szabo ’14 brings core principles of Muhammad Ali to youth in Kazakhstan

Morgan Szabo ’14 brings core principles of Muhammad Ali to youth in Kazakhstan

Read more »
Discover the world at IU Southeast’s 17th International Film Festival

Discover the world at IU Southeast’s 17th International Film Festival

Read more »
Faculty Innovators: Michael Hutchins

Faculty Innovators: Michael Hutchins

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

Diversity Events

National Disability Employment Awareness Month image

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

October 1st, 2016

All day event

Rosh Hashanah (New Year) (Jewish) image

Rosh Hashanah (New Year) (Jewish)

October 2nd, 2016

All day event

Meet Center for Women and Families Rep - Annell Lough image

Meet Center for Women and Families Rep - Annell Lough

October 5th, 2016

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Floyd Cty VA Service Officer - Marti Snyder image

Floyd Cty VA Service Officer - Marti Snyder

October 6th, 2016

9:00 AM - 2:00 PM

Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) - Jewish image

Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) - Jewish

October 11th, 2016

All day event

The Terrorist’s Son Author: Zak Ebrahim image

The Terrorist’s Son Author: Zak Ebrahim

October 11th, 2016

7:30 PM - 9:00 PM

SPC Presents "The Filharmonics" image

SPC Presents "The Filharmonics"

October 13th, 2016

7:30 PM - 9:00 PM

Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) - Jewish image

Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) - Jewish

October 16th, 2016

All day event

Free Workshop: Ouch! That Stereotype Hurts image

Free Workshop: Ouch! That Stereotype Hurts

October 21st, 2016

7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

2016 Diversity Research Symposium image

2016 Diversity Research Symposium

October 22nd, 2016

8:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Simchat Torah (Celebrating the Torah) - Jewish image

Simchat Torah (Celebrating the Torah) - Jewish

October 24th, 2016

All day event

Spoken Word Series: SPC Presents "Elizabeth Acevedo" image

Spoken Word Series: SPC Presents "Elizabeth Acevedo"

October 26th, 2016

12:15 PM - 1:00 PM

See All Events »