Guide to Inclusive Language

Words have the power to unite or divide us, to make your audience feel accepted or rejected. Adelphi is a welcoming and inclusive campus and community that respects and honors different religions, abilities, preferences and backgrounds and the language we use reflects this.

We’ve created this guide to provide all members of the Adelphi community with the current inclusive language terminology. We will update this guide as the terminology evolves.

The words and phrases in this guide are recommendations. As a general rule, ask the individual or group what terms they prefer and use those.


Race and Ethnicity

African American/black

Black and African American are not always interchangeable. Some people prefer the term black because they do not identify as African and/or American. Individuals may identify as African, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Latino or other. Use the term preferred by the group or individual. If referring to a group in general, Adelphi style is black (lowercase). Refer to groups as black studentsblack faculty members, etc., not blacks.

Asian, Asian American, Pacific Islander

Asian refers to people who are citizens of countries in the Far East, Southeast Asia or the Indian subcontinent, or to describe people of Asian descent. Asian Americans trace their origins to these regions.

Pacific Islanders includes Native Hawaiian, Samoan, Guamanian, Fijian and other peoples of the Pacific Island nations.

Use Asian/Pacific Islander when referring to this population in its entirety. Otherwise, use the preferred term of the individual or group.

Latino/a, Hispanic

Hispanic refers to people from Spanish-speaking countries. Latino/a is a person of Latin American descent who can be of any background or language. Therefore, people from Chile, Guatemala or Cuba who speak Spanish are both Hispanic and Latino/a. Brazilians who speak Portuguese are Latino/a, not Hispanic, and Spanish-speaking people in Spain and outside Latin America are Hispanic but not Latino/a. In general, our style is Latino/a, since it is more inclusive, but use the term preferred by the individual or group, who may identify as, for example, Puerto Rican, Brazilian, Mexican American or Cuban American. If the individual or group does not identify as either Latino or Latina, the term LatinX can be used.

National Origins

Do not hyphenate national origins even if they are used as adjectives. Irish American, Polish American, Japanese American.

Native American, American Indian

Native American is preferred unless the individual or group specifies otherwise. Use the term Indian to refer to people from India.

People of Color, Minority

Do not use the term minority. Refer instead to people of colorstudents of color, etc., or underserved or underrepresented populations.


Gender and Sexual Preferences

Use the inclusive term LGBTQ, which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning, or queer, as it is more inclusive than LGBT.

Use the singular they when referring to someone whose gender is not specified. Ze/Hir are gender-inclusive pronouns that can replace he/she and his/her. People who are transgender may also have a preferred pronoun. Justin Vivian Bond uses the nonbinary pronoun “they,” or more simply “V,” rather than the traditional “he” and “she.” Ask your subjects and use the pronouns they prefer.


Noun Usage

Use gender-neutral nouns.

Instead of: Use:
  • Chairman
  • Chair
  • Steward/stewardess
  • Flight attendant
  • Fireman
  • Firefighter
  • Policeman
  • Police officer
  • Salesman
  • Salesperson, sales associate
  • Mankind
  • Humanity, humankind
  • Man and wife
  • Husband and wife

Pronouns

Plural pronouns are becoming more widely accepted as gender-neutral singular pronouns. It is permissible to rewrite using a form of they if you cannot rephrase your sentence to be plural rather than singular.

  • Each author was chosen based on his or her research.
  • Authors were chosen based on their research.

When this is not possible, use the singular they:

If your child registers after this date, they will have to make up the additional work.

Use the singular they when referring to someone whose gender is not specified.

First-year/freshman
We now use the term first-year as a noun and adjective to describe students entering college. If necessary for clarity, include freshmen in parentheses: a first-year (freshman); first-year students (freshmen).


Victim, Survivor

Use the term survivor to describe those who have experienced gender-based violence.


Disabilities

People with disabilities are people first: a person with a disability, not disabled person; person with autism, not autistic or autistic person. Avoid outdated, offensive words such as handicapped and retarded.

Use the term accessible rather than disabled or handicapped to refer to facilities: accessible parking.


Request assistance from University Communications and Marketing if you are unsure about language; the rules around correct language change and evolve over time. 

You may also seek assistance from our Office for Diversity and Inclusion.

 
University Communications and Marketing