How to Use LGBTQ and Gender Inclusive Language with Children
- Generalizing what boys or girls like.
- Assuming a kid is a boy or a girl based on hair, clothing, or color choices.
- Saying “boys and girls”.
- Dividing groups up by boys and girls.
- Assuming kids have one mom and one dad.
- Commenting on “family resemblance”.
- Asking a kid open ended questions about what they like “what toys do you like to play with?” “What is your favorite color?” “What do you love to do?”
- If talking with a parent of a kid you don’t know, use inclusive language. “I love your kid’s hat” rather than “I love his/her hat”. “They are really speedy on that bike” instead of “he is so speedy on his bike”.
- Ask a kid (or their parent) their name and call them by name until it’s clear they go by a certain pronoun. “What is your name?”
- “Hi friends” instead of “Hi boys and girls”.
- Divide a group up by ice cream preference (vanilla/chocolate) or by pet preference (dog/cat).
- Say “parents” (or caregivers, adults, grown-ups) instead of “mom and dad”.
- When you meet same sex parents, ask them (or their child) what names their child calls them (e.g., Mama, Mommy, Mimi, Daddy, Papa, Dad, and beyond).
- Families are formed in many ways, including divorce/re-marriage, assisted reproductive technologies, adoption, fostering, etc. “Children come into families in many different ways. Every family is different.”
- If you know same sex couples with children, ask them questions about how to talk about their family. Some families have one parent, more than two parents, a “donor”. It’s best to ask how they would like you to talk about it with your kids.
Shifting to LGBTQ and gender-inclusive language respects and acknowledges the identities and families of all children and removes assumptions. Most children categorize their own gender by the age of 3 and have strong gender preferences and stereotypes by age 5 or 6. However, because gender stereotypes are so reinforced in our culture (e.g., in the media; by parents, families, friends, and educators), children often learn to behave in the ways that are expected of them.
Wouldn’t we rather allow our children to discover who they are without those stereotypes? Find out what makes them happy?
Let’s Change The Language.