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Words of belonging: new inclusive language guide

Washington State University has launched an inclusive language guide to encourage communication that welcomes and respects the diversity of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and everyone.

Part of the WSU editorial style guide, the new inclusive language section was put together by the university’s editorial style guide committee with input from stakeholders across WSU.

Inclusive language is a key part of building community by conveying a sense of belonging and respect for differences among people. A main principle behind the new guide is that written content should be free from words, phrases, or tones that stereotype and diminish people based on their identities.

This guide addresses inclusive language for 11 categories of identity: age, disability, gender and gender identity/expression, incarceration, national origin, Native and Indigenous nations, race and ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and veteran status.

In many cases, it is not necessary to add anything about a person’s identity to written communication. When it is necessary or relevant, ask people what language they want you to use.

The new inclusive language guide can be found online on the University Marketing and Communications website.

Language is fluid, and the meanings and connotations of words can change rapidly. WSU will update this guide as needed to ensure the university is using the most inclusive and accurate language. If you have a comment or suggestion, please contact style.guide@wsu.edu.

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