Guide to Inclusive Language
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.
Words have the power to unite or divide us, to make your audience feel accepted or rejected. 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.
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, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging.
In general, use Black (capitalized), not black, when referring to people of African descent. When referring to a specific group or individual, use the term they prefer, such as Black, African American, African, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Latino or other. Refer to groups as Black students, Black faculty members, etc., not Blacks.
Use antisemitic, not anti-Semitic, as Semitism is a pseudoscientific racial classification.
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 or Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) when referring to this population in its entirety. Otherwise, use the preferred term of the individual or group.
Hispanic / Latino/a / Latinx
Hispanic refers to people from Spanish-speaking countries. Latino/a/Latinx 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/Latinx. Brazilians who speak Portuguese are Latino/a/Latinx, not Hispanic, and Spanish-speaking people in Spain and outside Latin America are Hispanic but not Latino/a/Latinx.
In general, our style is Hispanic, 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 gender-neutral term Latinx can be used.
Capitalize Indigenous when referring to the original inhabitants of an area.
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: She is a member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation. In general, use the term Indian to refer to people from India.
People of Color
People of color refers to individuals or groups who do not identify as white. Do not use the term minority. Refer instead to people of color, students of color, etc., or underserved or underrepresented populations.
The term white when referring to Caucasians remains lowercased. While Black people throughout share a cultural identity and experience of discrimination, white people generally do not share a history and culture, nor the experience of being discriminated against because of skin color.
Use the inclusive term LGBTQIA+, which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning or queer, intersex, and asexual/agender/allies, and others.
Use the singular they when referring to someone whose gender is not specified. People who are transgender may also have their own preferred pronouns. For example, 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.
Use gender-neutral nouns.
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.
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).
Replace underclassmen with first-years and sophomores and upperclassmen with juniors and seniors.
Use the term survivor to describe those who have experienced gender-based violence.
Unless an official title or direct quote from a person or historical document, use the terms enslaved person, enslaver, and enslavement instead of slave, slave owner and slavery to acknowledge the humanity of those were or are enslaved, both past and present.
Many people are still enslaved today. The family were the enslavers of four people.
But: The spokesperson for Anti-Slavery International said, “Slavery did not end with the nineteenth century.”
Aside from referring to master’s degrees, try to avoid using master as a noun or a verb. Terms such as expert, become proficient in, or become skilled in can be used instead.
Ask your subject if they prefer person-first or identity-first language. Person-first language reinforces the concept that someone is a person first: a person with a disability; people on the autism spectrum. Identity-first language emphasizes that a disability is an intrinsic part of a person’s identity: a disabled person; an autistic or autistic person. If there is no preference, or when speaking in general, use person-first language. Avoid outdated, offensive words such as handicapped.
Use the term accessible rather than disabled or handicapped to refer to facilities: We use the New York-state approved term accessible parking.
Wheelchairs: The term wheelchair user is recommended. Wheelchair-bound or confined to a wheelchair are not allowed.
Avoid the terms special needs or special education unless when using the formal name of an organization or when referring to government or educational programming or legal matters. Instead, aim to be specific about the needs or services you’re writing about. If necessary, the term functional needs can be used.
Neurodiversity refers to the variation in the human brain regarding the ways we learn, socialize, behave and process emotions. Do not use the term neurodiverse to describe an individual: a person can be described as either neurotypical, meaning someone whose brain functions within standard norms in how they learn, behave, socialize and process emotions, or neurodivergent—someone whose brain functions differently, for example, a person with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, obsessive compulsive disorder or bipolar disorder.
Avoid usage of the puzzle-piece symbol, as some people with autism find it offensive. The rainbow infinity sign is considered a more positive symbol of autism and neurodiversity.