The More or Less of Inclusive Language

A Simple Thought Process

Not sure when inclusive language calls for more or less specificity?

When to say more and when to say less.

For selecting your level of specificity in inclusive language:

1️⃣ First, understand your goal (to not leave anyone out who you are trying to reach).

2️⃣ Then, choose language that furthers that goal.

🙅🏻‍♀️ We don’t need to throw everything in or leave everything out to make sure we didn’t exclude anyone.

Instead, try following these guidelines:

❗️Inclusive language excludes the irrelevant.

❗️Less is more unless it’s relevant.

⚠️ Listing out characteristics (like race or gender) that aren’t relevant in context is also potentially biased if it isn’t done in a balanced way.

So next time you are addressing or referencing a group and pause to make sure your language is inclusive:

🧐 Ask yourself if what you are listing out is relevant or necessary to avoid confusion.  And if it’s not, choose a more general term instead.

An Example

I’ve seen many variations of all-gender bathroom signs.

Some attempt to capture all genders by displaying a picture representative of each possibility.

Others opt for something more general like this:

”Bathroom 🚽”

If the gender is irrelevant and the sign or term avoids confusion, less is more than enough.

When is it relevant to be more specific?

It’s relevant:

▪️when needed to avoid confusion,

▪️when the subject matter is specific to the groups you want to list specifically, and

▪️when a general term has a “hush hush” effect on one or more of the groups it purports to include.

For example:

⚠️ Addressing certain holidays by name and others as “the holiday” reveals bias rather than promotes inclusivity.

⚠️ Referring to certain ethnic or racial groups like “Latin Americans” or “Asians” when you specifically only mean people from certain Latin American or Asian countries or cultures is over-generalizing.

Hope this helps!

❓Are you more annoyed or encouraged by the topic of inclusive language lately, and why?

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