How to Create Inclusive Programs
Interrupt oppression when it happens
Notice your beliefs and stereotypes about the LGBTQ community and communities of
color within your student organization and as an individual
Call on staff for help when you need it
Look into scheduling a Safe Zone, social justice, or Diversity 101 training
Use inclusive language
Support LGBTQ students and students of color and their initiatives
Invite LGBTQ students and students of color to the table as partners
Validate the experiences of LGBTQ students and students of color by including their concerns in your programming
When planning a program, ask:
- Who have we left out/behind?
- How might our message affect communities to which we do not belong?
- What assumptions have we made based on our privilege?
If you have any questions or need programmatic support, please get in touch with the Center for Student Diversity & Inclusion at 617-573-8613 or email us.
Using Inclusive Language
1. Mirror language.
Use the language that people use for themselves. You can pick up on cues about a person’s identity by listening and mirroring. If a person calls their partner their wife, do so also. If someone identifies as bisexual, use that term.
2. Use gender-neutral language whenever possible.
“He or she” was a good step forward, but with growing numbers of transgender and genderqueer individuals living outside of binary genders, a more-inclusive option is important. Use “they” if possible or more general labels like “students,” “faculty,” “staff,” or “participants” when applicable.
3. Allow people to self-identify and don’t assume you know how they identify.
You might be surprised. Make sure you allow moments for people to share their identities with you when appropriate. Think twice before calling a group of people who you assume to be female-identified “ladies.” Don’t assume that you can tell someone’s sexual orientation by the way they look/act or that an LGBTQ person is out of the closet in all areas of their life.
4. Eliminate oppressive language from your lexicon and oppressive ideas from your conversations.
This includes sexist, homophobic, and transphobic biases (to name a few) that are deeply embedded within our culture and shape the words we say and our view of the world. For example, don’t assume that people in power are male or that if someone is married that they are in a heterosexual marriage.
5. When someone requests that you change your language regarding their identities, respect their wishes and change your language.
Apologize and try again. We all make mistakes. Don’t take it personally and don’t waste time feeling guilty. Recommit and move on.