Inclusive Communications Guide

Communication reflects our ideals, but from social media posts to classroom conversations, the way language, method, and meaning intersect sometimes breeds confusion and conflict. However, through awareness, education, and practice, we believe we can foster more inclusive and productive dialogues amidst our differences.

Take the time to ask yourself:

  • Who is impacted by my communications?
  • Who is left out of these communications?
  • What unexamined stereotypes are hiding in my communications?
  • What is my relationship to and impact on the subject(s) of my communications?
  • What do my communications assume about the audience?

Bradley University is dedicated to the equitable treatment of all demographics across our wonderfully diverse campus. As such, the Office of Marketing and Communications and the Office of Inclusive Excellence have come together to produce this living resource for all forms of communication across campus.

Given the nature of the subjects discussed, we issue an overarching content warning for examples of pejoratives and hate speech present throughout.

All terms are in alphabetical order in their respective sections. If an item is missing or unclear, please contact the Office of Marketing and Communications and Enrollment Management.


 General Resources:


Here, we group gender and sex to highlight the nuances that separate them. Sex is determined at birth based upon biological markers such as genitals, reproductive organs and chromosomes. Meanwhile, gender is a more personal and cultural expression along the spectrum between (and outside) masculinity and femininity. Given the self-defined nature of gender, it is best practice to always respect an individual’s gender identity as they report it. When relevant, be sure to ask individuals how they identify, rather than making assumptions.

Cisgender: Refers to a person whose gender identity aligns with the gender and sex assigned at birth, that is, not a transgender man or woman. Only use to distinguish people by gender identity when relevant. Do not assume or refer to this group as normal.

Deadname: The birth name of somebody who has changed their name. It is most commonly used by trans people. Not to be used without the explicit consent of the subject. In almost all instances, it is impolite to ask what a person’s deadname is. 

Gender: A social construct that refers to a person’s self-identity (unlike sex, which refers to biological characteristics). A person’s gender is the complex interrelationship between three dimensions: body, identity, and social gender. Gender is usually assigned to a person at birth by an attendant or parent who bases the decision on visible genitalia of the infant. That assignment may not match the person’s actual gender, knowledge of which may emerge later.

Avoid using language that assumes a person’s gender experience, e.g., using “guys” to refer to a mixed-gender group of people. Avoid assumptions about gender within relationship roles: Examples:

  • “Partner” and “spouse” are more inclusive than “husband/wife”
  • “Parents” are more inclusive than “mother/father”
  • “Pregnant person” is more inclusive than “pregnant woman” or “mother”
  • Use “of a different gender” instead of “the opposite sex.”

Gender Binary: The assumption that gender is binary – that is, there are two and only two genders – male and female – which are distinct and disconnected. Many have come to see this as a false dichotomy, given the existence of intersex, transgender and agender people. 

Gender Dysphoria: Refers to the distress some people experience as a result of a disconnect between their gender and their sex. ​​In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association replaced the outdated entry Gender Identity Disorder with Gender Dysphoria, and changed the criteria for diagnosis. The necessity of a psychiatric diagnosis remains controversial, as both psychiatric and medical authorities recommend individualized medical treatment through hormones and/or surgeries to treat gender dysphoria. Some transgender advocates believe the inclusion of Gender Dysphoria in the DSM is necessary in order to advocate for health insurance that covers the medically necessary treatment recommended for transgender people. It is best to ask people who have gender dysphoria which pronouns they prefer.

Genderfluid: Refers to a person whose gender identity or expression is not fixed but can vary between, and extend beyond, male and female.

Gender Identity: Our internal experience and naming of our gender. It can correspond to or differ from the sex we were assigned at birth.

Gender Transition: Someone who has surgery to change the sex they were assigned to at birth. Use this term or sex reassignment. Do not use sex change.

Hermaphrodite: Unacceptable in any reference; use intersex.

Intersex: People born with sex chromosomes, genitalia and/or a reproductive system not considered standard for either males or females. Parents and physicians usually determine the sex of the child and may elect surgery or hormone treatment, a practice many intersex adults seek to end. Do not use hermaphrodite.

LGBT/LGBTQ/LGBTQIA+/LGBTQIA2S+: A broad and sometimes loosely bound group of communities comprising people from all races, religions, cultures and walks of life, namely lesbians, gay people, bisexual people, transgender people, queer people, intersex people, asexual people and two spirits. Referring to LGBTQ people is usually more accurate than defining them as one community. Refer to specific groups when applicable (‘a group of transgender activists’ would be more specific than ‘a group of LGBTQIA+ activists’).

Man, Woman, Male, Female: “Woman” and “man” refer to a person’s gender, while “female” and “male” refer to a person’s sex. They are not to be used interchangeably. 

Misgender: The act of referring to someone by the wrong gender. This may involve using incorrect pronouns or using gender-specific words that don’t conform to the person’s gender identity or gender expression.

Nonbinary: An adjective describing a person who does not identify exclusively as a man or a woman. Nonbinary people may identify as being both a man and a woman, somewhere in between, or as falling completely outside these categories.

Normal/norm: Unacceptable in any reference since it implies gender variance is abnormal when used to refer to cisgender individuals.

Pronouns: A growing number of people use they/them/their as a gender-neutral, singular pronoun. Ask which pronouns your source prefers and incorporate them as needed. If the source requests an alternative nonbinary pronouns, such as zie/zim/zis, use it, but be sure to explain, e.g., “Elliott, who uses the pronoun zim, said zim will graduate in May.” Do not use the term preferred pronoun, since it implies calling people other than what they want to be called is a viable alternative. Avoid references to chosen pronouns because they are not always chosen. Be sure your phrasing doesn’t imply more than one person. Whenever possible, rewording the sentence is preferred. Never assume a person’s pronoun. Other options: using a descriptive noun, e.g., “chemistry major,” “Chicago native,” etc.

Sex: Generally, we assign a newborn’s sex as either male or female (some U.S. states and other countries offer a third option) based on the baby’s genitals. Once a sex is assigned, we presume the child’s gender.

Sex change: Outdated term. Use sex reassignment or gender transition.

Sexual preference: An outdated term. Do not use in any instance.

Transgender: A broad term that can be used to describe people whose gender identity is different from the gender they were thought to be when they were born. “Trans” is often used as shorthand for transgender. Also, never refer to a trans person as any variation of “a man in a woman’s body; a woman in a man’s body” (unless they use that terminology themselves). Note: “Transgender people” is appropriate, but “transgenders” is often viewed as disrespectful.

Transsexual: An older term that originated in the medical and psychological communities, considered offensive by many people. Do not use and avoid using in direct quotes.

Transvestite: An outdated term; use cross-dresser instead.

Two Spirit: Contemporary umbrella term that refers to the historical and current First Nations people whose individual spirits were a blend of female and male spirits. This term has been reclaimed by Native American LGBT communities in order to honor their heritage and provide an alternative to the Western labels of gay, lesbian or transgender.



This section aims to address and exemplify the most up-to-date language surrounding individuals in the LGBTQIA+ community. But, as is always the case, we must trust that each individual is the expert of their own experience. If a person identifies in a way that is unfamiliar to you, remember that your understanding is worth far less than your respect. Address people as they ask to be addressed.

Asexual: A person who does not experience sexual attraction. Asexuals can and do experience other forms of attraction and intimacy, such as aesthetic, emotional, platonic, or romantic, and they can describe their romantic attraction in terms of hetero/homo/bi/pan, etc.

Bisexual: A person who has the capacity to form enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attractions to those of the same gender or to those of another gender. Bisexual people need not have had specific sexual experiences to be bisexual; in fact, they need not have had any sexual experience at all to identify as bisexual.

Cisgender: Refers to a person whose gender identity aligns with the gender and sex assigned at birth, that is, not a transgender man or woman. It is useful in distinguishing people by gender identity when relevant and without assuming that cisgender is the neutral or normal state. 

Closeted: Do not use, except in quotes. Use not out instead.

Cross-dresser: See transvestite

Gay: Refers to men who are attracted to other men; preferred over homosexual, which connotes clinical context or references to sexual activity. Avoid using as a singular noun. Individuals outside the gender binary may also identify with this descriptor. For cis women, lesbian is generally used, but when possible ask the subject which term they prefer.

Gay community: Do not use, unless referring specifically to gay individuals. Use LGBTQIA community instead. (For more information, see “Intersectional Representation” under the People with Disabilities section.)

Homosexual: Do not use, except in quotes. Use gay or lesbian instead. 

Intersex: An umbrella term describing people born with reproductive or sexual anatomy and/or a chromosome pattern that can’t be classified as typically male or female. Those variations are also sometimes referred to as Differences of Sex Development (DSD.) Avoid the outdated and derogatory term “hermaphrodite.” While some people can have an intersex condition and also identify as transgender, the two are separate and should not be conflated. 

Lesbian: Preferred term, both as a noun and adjective, for women who are attracted to other women. Individuals outside the gender binary may also identify with this descriptor. Some women prefer to be called gay rather than lesbian; when possible, ask the subject which term she prefers. 

LGBT/LGBTQ/LGBTQIA+/LGBTQIA2S+: A broad and sometimes loosely bound group of communities comprising people from all races, religions, cultures and walks of life, namely lesbians, gay people, bisexual people, transgender people, queer people, intersex people, asexual people and two spirits. Referring to LGBTQ people is usually more accurate than defining them as one community. Refer to specific groups when applicable (‘a group of transgender activists’ would be more specific than ‘a group of LGBTQIA+ activists’).

Be sure to use the correct letters, in the correct order, when using acronyms such as LGBTQIA2S+. If you're covering research or new data, don't refer to the findings as relevant to "the LGBTQIA community" if the information only relates to a specific group within the community, e.g., gay men. 

Lifestyle: Do not refer to someone’s sexuality as their lifestyle, since it implies sexuality is a lifestyle choice. 

MTF or FTM: Do not use unless an individual identifies themselves this way. Use male to female/female to male transition instead.

Out: A person who self-identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender in their personal, public, and/or professional lives. For example: Ricky Martin is an out pop star from Puerto Rico. Do not use “openly gay.”

Pansexual: One whose primary attraction is to a person, regardless of their gender. Because the labels heterosexual and homosexual imply the gender of both the person and the object of their attraction, it is often difficult or irrelevant to identify with these labels when a person’s gender is non-binary. For this reason many people opt for the label pansexual or omnisexual.

Queer: Traditionally a pejorative term, queer has been appropriated by some LGBT people as a self-affirming umbrella term. However, it is not universally accepted even within the LGBT community and should be avoided unless describing someone who self-identifies that way or in a direct quote. When Q is seen at the end of “LGBT,” it typically means queer and/or questioning.

Sexual preference: Do not use, except in a direct quote. Use sexual orientation instead.

Transgender: A broad term that can be used to describe people whose gender identity is different from the gender they were thought to be when they were born. “Trans” is often used as shorthand for transgender.

Transvestite: Do not use this term, use cross-dresser. Be aware cross-dressing does not necessarily indicate someone is gay or transgender.

Two Spirit: Contemporary umbrella term that refers to the historical and current First Nations people whose individual spirits were a blend of female and male spirits. This term has been reclaimed by Native American LGBT communities in order to honor their heritage and provide an alternative to the Western labels of gay, lesbian, or transgender.



When it comes to discussing disabilities, the words we choose have a significant impact on the lives of individuals with disabilities. Those words, when carefully chosen to reflect the preferences of the subject, respect and empower all involved. 

Avoid inspiration porn, e.g., a story about how a disabled teen was asked to prom by a popular girl or boy who felt sorry for them or sacrificed their “real date” to be nice and compassionate. These messages are exploitative and create an unnecessary hierarchy where nondisabled people are viewed as better than disabled people, and disabled people only live to inspire and entertain the nondisabled masses. A good question to ask is whether this would be a story if the disability was removed, and if the answer is no, do not pursue it.

Able-bodied/Normal: Do not use when referring to a person who does not have a disability. Use nondisabled instead.

Accessibility: The extent to which a facility is readily approachable and usable by individuals with disabilities, particularly such areas as the residence halls, classrooms, and public areas.

Accommodation: A change in the environment or in the way things are customarily done that allows an individual with a disability to have equal opportunity, access and participation.

Afflicted with/Suffers from: Do not use when referring to people with disabilities. Language that connotes weakness or pity should be avoided. Use neutral terms instead. For example, Michael J. Fox has Parkinson’s disease.

Ableism: Discrimination against persons with mental and/or physical disabilities; social structures that favor nondisabled individuals. It is a set of biased attitudes and beliefs about disability that harm and disadvantage disabled people through both individual discriminatory actions and large scale, discriminatory social institutions and systems.

Ableism can explain anything from an employer denying a qualified wheelchair user a job to a Deaf person not being able to understand a politician’s stump speech because of a lack of a sign language interpreter to a child with a reading disability failing a class because their grade was determined entirely by timed, written exams.

Birth defect, defective: Acceptable in broad references, like “lessening the chances of birth defects or about 1 in 33 babies in the U.S. has a birth defect.” Do not use the term when referring to a specific person or to a group of people with a specific condition. Instead, be specific about the condition and use only if relevant to the story. Some prefer the term congenital disorder.

Condescending Terminology: Avoid language that uses pictorial metaphors or negativistic terms that imply restriction (e.g., “wheelchair bound” or “confined to a wheelchair”; use the term “wheelchair user” instead) and that uses excessive and negative labels (e.g., “AIDS victim,” “brain damaged”; use the terms “person with AIDS” or “person with a traumatic brain injury” instead).

Avoid euphemisms that are condescending when describing individuals with disabilities (e.g., “special needs,” “physically challenged,” “handi-capable”). Many people with disabilities consider these terms patronizing and inappropriate. Labels such as “high functioning” or “low functioning” are both problematic and ineffective in describing the nuances of an individual’s experience with a developmental and/or intellectual disability; instead, specify the individual’s strengths and weaknesses. As with other diverse groups, insiders in disability culture may use negative and condescending terms with one another; it is not appropriate for an outsider (nondisabled person) to use these terms.

Crazy, insane, nuts, psycho: Derogatory term for someone with mental illness. Do not use under any circumstances.

Deaf/Hard of hearing/Deaf-mute: Use the lowercase form deaf for the audiological condition of total or major hearing loss and for people with total or major hearing loss, when relevant to the story. Hard of hearing can be used to describe people with a lesser degree of hearing loss. Do not use hearing-impaired, hearing impairment or partially deaf unless a person uses those terms for themself. Never use the terms deaf-mute or deaf and dumb.

Many deaf people who use sign language have a deeply ingrained sense of culture and community built around the experience of deafness and sign language, and use the uppercase form Deaf to signify that culture. The uppercase is acceptable, if used by the person or group, in descriptions such as the cultural Deaf community, Deaf education, Deaf culture, etc. Do not use the uppercase form for a person; use lowercase deaf, the standard style for medical conditions. Example: Lagier, who is deaf, said the Deaf community is a powerful force in his life.

Demented/senile: Derogatory term for individuals who have an impaired ability to remember, which interferes with their ability to think and make decisions, or interferes with everyday activities. Do not use under any circumstances. Describe a person as having dementia or Alzheimer’s disease if relevant to the story.

Disability: Physical or mental impairment, the perception of a physical or mental impairment, or a history of having had a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Do not use handicap or the Handicapped. 

Disability organizations: It is important to know exactly who the organization represents. Just because an organization claims to represent disabled people does not mean disabled people are actually included. Try to research the organization before you use them as a source. Also, Just because an organization is run by disabled people does not mean it represents the Disability Community accurately, either. Do your research before using any organization as a source.

Epileptic fit: Do not use; use the term seizure instead when referring to the brief manifestation of symptoms common among those with epilepsy.

Equating Disability with Illness: People with disabilities can be healthy, although they may have a chronic condition such as arthritis or diabetes. Only refer to someone as a patient when their relationship with a health care provider is under discussion.

Identity-First Language (IFL): Identity-first language positions disability as an identity category and central to a person’s sense of self. In identity-first language, the identifying word comes first in the sentence and highlights the person’s embrace of their identity. Examples could be “autistic person” or “Deaf individual.”

Those who use IFL believe Person-First Language (PFL) supports the idea the disability itself is harmful, so it should be ignored or de-emphasized. They believe their disability is a part of their identity, while acknowledging it can sometimes make their life harder, especially due to lack of accessibility and other forms of ableism. Their disability is not something they are ashamed of, and they do not wish to de-emphasize it. Identity first language allows disabled people to acknowledge both the good and bad aspects of having a disability. IFL is still an emerging concept in the United States, although it is preferred in many European countries including England.

Intersectional Representation: Disabled people come from all walks of life, but the dominant narrative about disability usually comes from white, cisgender, straight, disabled men. When women are included, they are almost always white. Black and brown voices are consistently missing from the narrative. It is imperative that diverse representation be included. If your work is not intersectional, then it is excluding someone. A person’s identity can intersect to include race, ethnicity, immigration status, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, age, nationality, and social class.

Invisible/Hidden Disability: An umbrella term that captures a whole spectrum of hidden disabilities or challenges that are primarily neurological in nature. Invisible disability, or hidden disability, are defined as disabilities that are not immediately apparent.

Loony, loony bin, lunatic: Derogatory term for someone with mental illness. Do not use under any circumstances.

Mentally retarded: Always try to specify the type of disability being referenced. Otherwise, the terms mental disability, intellectual disability and developmental disability are acceptable.

Midget: Derogatory term used for someone with dwarfism, a genetic condition resulting in an adult height below 4’10.” Refer to the condition only if relevant to the story. Person with dwarfism and little person are acceptable terms, but always ask the person’s preference. 

Nondisabled: ​​Use this term for a person who does not have a disability.

Person-First Language (PFL): Emphasizes the individuality, equality and dignity of people with disabilities. Rather than defining people primarily by their disability, people-first language conveys respect by emphasizing the fact that people with disabilities are first and foremost just that — people.

Examples: Use an “individual with intellectual disabilities” instead of “mentally impaired individual”; “Capable of” instead of “high functioning”; “A person who uses a wheelchair” instead of “wheelchair bound.”

Certain communities, like the Down Syndrome community, prefer people-first language. Many people working in fields that heavily interact with disabled people, like social work or physical therapy, have been taught to use person first language, and many parents of disabled children use it, as well. Some insist on using PFL, even to the point of ignoring the wishes of disabled individuals. Always ask the individual’s preference.

Social Model/Medical Model: The social model of disability approaches disability differently than the medical model, which regards disability as a defect that must be cured or normalized through medical intervention. The social or Independent Living (IL) model regards disability as a neutral difference between people and acknowledges people with disabilities can be healthy. The social model seeks not to change the person with the disability but social attitudes, physical environments, public policies, and other barriers to full participation.

Spastic/spaz: Derogatory term for someone with a physical disability of some kind. Do not use under any circumstances.

Vegetable: Derogatory term for someone with mental disability of some kind. Do not use under any circumstances.

Wheelchair bound: Do not use this term. Instead use “person who uses a wheelchair” or “wheelchair user.”  



As with any population, communications about low-income and underserved individuals must be approached from an informed position of empathy so as to respect and empower all people being discussed. As always, be sure to default to the language being used by the individual, and avoid making assumptions. In particular, use precise language that is neutral, e.g., Japanese American women in their 20s, not young Asian women.

Also, ask yourself if these descriptors, even neutral ones, are germane to the story. For example, it would be unlikely in a story about a student’s senior capstone project to include their or their family’s low-income status or how they/their family may have entered the country. Stick to pertinent details.

Achievement gap: Do not use. Use opportunity gap instead. 

First-generation college student: There is no standard definition, but this can refer to students who are "among the first in their family to go to college" (e.g., their parents or siblings did not attend college) and/or students who are "among the first in their family to graduate from college" (e.g., their parents' highest level of education is some college).

High-school dropouts: Refers to people who did not complete their high-school education. Use neutral language that refers to what the person completed. Avoid language that blames the individual. If comparing groups, use parallel terminology

Homeless: Use individual/people experiencing homelessness or person/people who are living in an emergency shelter, or in transitional housing. Do not refer to the group as “the homeless.” 

Illegals/illegal aliens/illegal immigrants: Person(s) who enter or live in a country without authorization in violation of civil or criminal law. Except in a direct quotations essential to the story, use illegal only to refer to an action, not a person: illegal immigration, but not illegal immigrant. Do not use the terms alien, unauthorized immigrant, irregular migrant, an illegal, illegals or undocumented.

Low-Income: Defined per federal guidelines as household incomes that are at or below 100% of their poverty threshold. Do not use terms like poor/impoverished/disadvantaged/ low-class/underprivileged.

Minorities: Do not use. Use people of color or students of color instead.

Projects/the ghetto/the inner city: Do not use. Use terms like low-income housing, low-income areas of the city, etc. Avoid conflating social class and race or ethnicity by using coded language like “inner city,” “projects,” or “ghetto.” Specify race or ethnicity and measures of socioeconomic standing separately and only if germane to the story.

Underrepresented Minorities/URM: Use historically underrepresented groups instead as minority groups will soon be the majority in the U.S. and underrepresented groups includes LGBTQ+ individuals, veterans and people with disabilities

Underserved students: Defined as those who do not receive equitable resources as other students in the academic pipeline. Typically, includes low-income, racial/ethnic minorities ("people of color" or "students of color" is the preferred use, not "minorities"), and first-generation students, among others. 

Welfare mothers/welfare reliant: Do not use. Use mothers who receive TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) benefits, people who are unable to work because of a disability, families whose main income is from TANF benefits, etc. Avoid language that focuses on blaming the individual or on individual deficits. Use neutral language and only if germane to the story. TANF is the proper term for the current welfare program in the United States. 



Race refers to physical differences that groups and cultures consider socially significant. Ethnicity refers to shared cultural characteristics such as language, ancestry, practices, and beliefs.

Be clear about whether you are referring to a racial group or to an ethnic group. Race is a social construct that is not universal, so you must be careful not to impose racial labels on ethnic groups. Whenever possible, use the racial and/or ethnic terms that your subjects themselves use.

Do not use phrases like “racially charged,” “racially divisive,” “racially tinged” or similar terms as euphemisms for “racist” or “racism” when the latter terms are truly applicable. Also, avoid essentialism, for example, phrases such as “the Black race” and “the White race”  that portray human groups monolithically and often perpetuate stereotypes. Do not use racial slurs, under any circumstances, except in quotes and only if the quote is absolutely essential to the story.

activist, advocate: Activist is someone who actively advocates for political or social change. Often used to describe Black leaders engaged in activism. Others who also push for causes, however, often are called advocates. Advocate is more neutral and a better choice for news copy, unless a subject describes himself or herself as an activist.

Affirmative Action: Program, practice or process aimed at correcting enduring effects of discrimination by allowing race and gender to be considered as factors in hiring and job advancement and college admissions of women and minorities. Affirmative action is sometimes confused with quota (a prescribed number that must be met). Affirmative action aims for an exceeded target, while a quota sets a minimum number.

African American: Capitalized, no hyphen. Not all Black people use this term, so always use the subject’s preference. Be as specific as possible, e.g., Haitian American, Jamaican American.

alien: An outdated term for an immigrant; do not use. Use neutral language, e.g., Albert Einstein emigrated from Germany to the United States. Do not use the terms illegal immigrants or undocumented immigrants. Instead say someone immigrated to the U.S. illegally so the focus is on the act, not the person 

American Indian, Native American: Either term is generally acceptable and can be used interchangeably, although individuals may have a preference. The term is used only to describe groups of Native Americans - two or more individuals of different tribal affiliation. Identify people by their preferred tribal affiliation when reporting on individuals or individual tribes.

animal references: Avoid comparing people, in particular athletes, with animals even if they have a name such as Tiger or Fox.

articulate: As an adjective, the word is viewed by some as a subjective term that implies it is an exceptional occurrence for people of color to speak confidently, knowledgeably, clearly, eloquently and/or reasonably on a topic. It is better to report what a person said rather than simply describe them as such.

Asian: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam. 

bias, discrimination: Bias is a state of mind, a prepossession or prejudice toward an object, person or view. Discrimination is an action that springs from that state of mind; the unfair treatment of a person or group based on prejudice or bias. Discrimination and bias may be for or against something. For example, one may be biased in favor of left-handed reporters, and one may practice discrimination in their favor. The two terms are not interchangeable, even for the sake of saving space in a layout.

BIPOC: An acceptable term for Black, Indigenous and people of color (including Latinx, Asians and others) when speaking generally about this group, but not when not referring specifically to one group—for example, Black people or Native Americans. This term covers the global majority, whose oppression was foundational to the establishment of the Americas that we know now. Use BIPOC as a noun, not an adjective, as people is part of the acronym. 

biracial: Combination of two races. May be used to describe people or things. Not all biracial individuals self-identify in this manner. Do not use mixed as an alternative. 

Black: Capitalized. Not all Black people are African Americans, so ask the subject which term they prefer. Only use it if race is relevant to the story. When describing a group, use Black people instead of just “Blacks.” Avoid using a term like Black leader, since it implies one person is the spokesperson for all Black people.

Chicano/Chicana: used by some people of Mexican descent; Chicano refers to men and Chicana to women. Always ask the subject’s preference.

colored: An archaic term for Black. In some African countries, colored denotes those of mixed racial ancestry. Do not use unless referring to a proper name, e.g., NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) or in quotes when necessary to the story. (See African American, Black.)

complexions: Black skin tones range from very light to very dark. Be sensitive when describing various shades of skin. Certain terms such as darkie, high-yellow, redbone, blue-black or tar baby, are considered offensive by should not be used.

Diverse: A group can be diverse; an individual can’t. Avoid using diverse as a synonym for nonwhite since it refers to containing a variety of unlike qualities. 

ethnicity, race: The mention of a person’s race should not be used unless relevant. This also applies to references to ethnicity, sexual orientation and religion. Derogatory terms or slurs aimed at members of a racial or ethnic group may not be used unless having a direct bearing on the news, and then only with the approval of the senior editor in charge. Avoid stereotypes.

Hispanic: While it is common to see Hispanic and Latinx/Latino/a used interchangeably, they are not synonymous. Hispanic generally refers to people with origins in Spanish-speaking countries. Latinx/Latino/a generally refer to people with origins in Latin America and the Caribbean. Most Hispanics also identify as Latinx/Latino/a and vice versa. Generally, people from Brazil or Haiti do not identify as Hispanic, but may identify as Latinx/Latino/a.

Indigenous or Aboriginal: Capitalize this term used to refer to original inhabitants of a place. For example: Aboriginal leaders welcomed a new era of Indigenous relations in Australia. Bolivia’s Indigenous peoples represent some 62% of the population. Do not use Aborigine.

Latino/Latina/Latinx: Use this term only if it’s a person’s preferred descriptor and if it’s important to include in the story. Many people within the community prefer “Latino,” “Latina,” or “Latino/a.” Several major news organizations report 40% of people from Spanish-speaking communities find the term Latinx offensive, despite others who praise its inclusiveness because it rejects the gender binary. Always ask the subject’s preference. 

minority, racial minority: Group or groups differing especially in race, religion or ethnicity from the majority of a population. Although acceptable as an adjective in broad references to multiple races other than white in the U.S., the preferred term is people of color. However, it is important to be specific whenever possible by naming groups, e.g., Black Americans, Chinese Americans, rather than use the generic term. 

Native: Can be used as an adjective to describe styles; For Instance, Native fashion, Native music, or Native art. Exercise caution when using the word, as it is primarily used as slang.

Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands. 

Native Alaskan/Alaska Native: Used for any of the more than 180,000 tribal members who make up the 228 Federally Recognized Tribes under the jurisdiction of the Alaska Regional Office - from Ketchikan in the Southeast Panhandle to Barrow on the Arctic Ocean and from Eagle on the Yukon Territory border to Atka in the Aleutian Chain.

sports stereotypes: Avoid characterizations of Black athletes as naturally being better than athletes of other ethnic backgrounds. Such depictions are reminiscent of slavery, when owners described their male slaves as bucks and tried to breed them with female slaves to produce superior slaves.

tribal affiliation: Always identify Indigenous people by their specific tribes, nations or communities. Headlines and text should also refer to tribes by their proper names, not a catch-all phrase. Failing to use the actual name of the tribe is not accurate, fair or thorough and it undermines diversity by erasing the tribe’s identity. 

white: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa. Do not capitalize; use instead of Caucasian.