Avoid Language Bias

» Avoid language that reinforces stereotypes or excludes certain groups of people.

Sexism is the most difficult bias to avoid, in part because of the convention of using man or men and he or his to refer to people of either sex. Other, more disrespectful conventions include giving descriptions of women in terms of age and appearance while describing men in terms of accomplishment. 

Avoid: mankind, man, man in the street.
Use: human beings, humans, humankind, humanity, people, society, men and women, average person, ordinary person. 


Race, Ethnicity, and National Origin:
Some words and phrases that refer to racial and ethnic groups are clearly offensive. Other words (e.g., Oriental, coloured) are outdated or inaccurate. Hispanic is generally accepted as a broad term for Spanish-speaking people of the Western Hemisphere, but more specific terms (Latino, Mexican American) are also acceptable and in some cases preferred. 

Avoid: Negro, colored, Afro-American.
lack, African-American (generally preferred to Afro-American) .

The concept of ageing is changing as people are living longer and more active lives. Be aware of word choices that reinforce stereotypes (decrepit, senile) and avoid mentioning age unless it is relevant. 

Avoid: elderly, aged, old, geriatric, the elderly, the aged.
Use: older person, senior citizen(s), older people, seniors.

Sexual Orientation:
The term homosexual to describe a man or woman is increasingly replaced by the terms gay for men and lesbian for women. Homosexual as a noun is sometimes used only in reference to a male. Among homosexuals, certain terms (such as queer and dyke) that are usually considered offensive have been gaining currency in recent years. However, it is still prudent to avoid these terms in standard contexts.

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