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Cultural Considerations: The Importance of Using Inclusive Language

As part of CASA’s ongoing effort to better advocate for the diverse population of children that we serve, it is important for us to be as conscientious as possible of our choice of words. The things we say, even when said with the best of intentions, can be rooted in unconscious assumptions of gender, sexual orientation, religion, class, physical ability and more. Bringing these sorts of unconscious assumptions into conversations with children can be harmful and alienating, and discourage them from fully opening up – especially for children of color, LGBTQ, and those who identify with other minority groups.

“[It’s] unlikely you’d be called out for being too considerate. But oblivious communication is a quick way to lose the ear of someone who feels like you’re not truly talking to them—or worse, who is hurt by your message.” [source]

Below are some examples of phrases that might be taken as insensitive or exclusionary, followed by more inclusive phrasing alternatives:

Insensitive/Exclusionary Phrasing

Alternative Inclusive Phrasing

Are you excited for Christmas break?

Are you excited for the winter/holiday break?

Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?

Are you dating/seeing anyone?

When do you want to have kids/get married?

What do you want for your future?

Today was crazy!

Today was really busy!

In addition to improving interactions with the children we serve, using inclusive language is also a key part of ensuring a more welcoming, affirming and respectful workplace culture. You can read more about the importance of mindful language in this Harvard University blog post – Inclusive Language in Four Easy Steps.

Texas CASA is committed to our goal of ensuring the highest quality advocacy possible for all children in the child protection system, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, expression, or disability status – that’s why we are now highlighting resources to support the CASA network’s journey to becoming more inclusive, welcoming, affirming and culturally considerate. Explore more Cultural Considerations articles.