Heteronormative language assumes everyone is heterosexual and can exclude those who don’t fit that assumption. Inclusive language acknowledges and respects diversity, creating a more accepting environment that breaks down barriers and helps people express themselves and connect with others.
Using inclusive language in these ways helps create an environment where all children feel seen, heard, and valued, regardless of their gender or sexual identity. It also helps to break down harmful stereotypes and biases, and promotes a more accepting and respectful community.
Examples of Heteronormative language:
Examples of Inclusive language:
After presenting in over 300 schools across BC, I can tell you that this topic does come up quite regularly when working in schools, especially when you are presenting to grade 5-7. The last thing we want to do is isolate or make children feel insecure, and this could easily happen if we go on assuming they all have a Mom and Dad.
What commonly comes up for us as we are presenting to children is mentioning their parents. It’s easy to ask questions like “Does your mom take the bus?” or “Do your parents own a car?” without even realizing that it could be hurtful for some children who don’t have those figures in their life. Many children in BC are being raised by single parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, or they could be in foster care.
To avoid this, I always refer to any Mom/Dad/Parents/Guardians as their Adult. It may seem silly at first, but it is an easy way to make your language much more inclusive without having to put in the effort of translating each instance.
Some examples are, “Does your adult take the bus?” “Does your adult own a car?” “You could go home and ask your adult that!” “Who recently has heard an adult complain about the gas prices?” “When you go home, remind your adult that kids ride free on the bus!“
It takes a little bit of practice but I promise it’s easy once you get the hang of it!