Culturally Sensitive Terminology
University Nondiscrimination Policy
Illinois Wesleyan University does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, religion,
sex, sexual orientation including gender identity and expression, disability or national
origin in its admissions policies, educational programs and activities or employment
policies. Inquiries regarding the nondiscrimination policy should be directed to the
Office of the President, Illinois Wesleyan University, P.O. Box 2900, Bloomington,
Illinois Wesleyan University expressly recognizes the requirements of Title IX legislation.
Title IX complaints should be reported to the University’s Title IX coordinator, who
is the who is the Associate Provost (211 Holmes Hall, (309) 556-3255).
Illinois Wesleyan University does not discriminate on the basis of disability in admission
or access to, or treatment or employment in, its programs and activities. The Vice
President for Business and Finance, the Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of
Students, and the Associate Provost are designated by the University to coordinate
all efforts to comply with Section 504 and its implementing regulation 34 C.F.R. Part
104 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. All questions should be directed to the University
compliance coordinators indicated above.
Synonymous with Native American, though choice should be left to individual or group preference. Use specific identification,
such as Sioux or Navajo, whenever appropriate.
Use to express dual heritage for someone of Asian descent. However, when appropriate,
use a more specific identification, such as Japanese-American.
The preferred AP style: Use African-American or African American if quoted or as part of an organization’s name. Preference should be left to individuals
To avoid gender-bias in written materials when possible, gender-neutral terms should
When appropriate, substitute non-gendered terms for those with masculine or feminine
e.g. firefighter, police officer, flight attendant, server
Not: fireman/firewoman, policeman/policewoman, steward/stewardess, waiter/waitress
Avoid substituting person
Not: chairman, chairwoman, or chairperson
Exception: official titles including the terms chairman or chairwoman
When appropriate, write in the plural.
e.g. All students must meet with their professors.
Not: Each student must meet with his professor.
Never: Each student must meet with their professor.
When appropriate, write in the second person.
e.g. Students, you should bring your books to class.
Not: Each student should bring his books to class.
Avoid the third-person singular, gendered pronouns.
e.g. Each applicant submitted a resume.
Not: Each applicant submitted his resume.
Avoid slash constructions. If necessary, write he
e.g. All performers played their instruments.
Not: Each performer played his/her instrument.
AP style notes that a few terms are still used to provide gender specificity. If
desired, use of these terms may be avoided by substituting a verb for a noun.
e.g. host/hostess; Mrs. Smith was the hostess.
Instead: Mrs. Smith hosted the party.
Some proper terminology is gender specific.
When using terms such as these generally, the masculine/all plural form alumni is
preferred. When using one of these terms in reference to one specific person, the
gender specific should be used.
e.g. All alumni were recognized.
Not: Each alumnus was recognized.
Exception: Dr. Mona Gardner is an alumna of the University of Cincinnati.
See also Emerita, emeritae, emeriti, emeritus
under Section II
See also Alumna, alumnae, alumni, alumnus
under Section II
Hyphens are often used in conjunction with “American,” particularly in the cases of
Indian-American, Italian-American, and Mexican-American, etc.; however, choice should
be left to individual or group preference.
Exception: American Indian, Native American
See also Hyphens
under Section II
Use to express heritage for someone whose ethnic origin is in a Spanish-speaking country.
Some prefer the term Latino (masculine) or Latina (feminine). Use a more specific identification when appropriate, such as Cuban-American.
Use the term multi-denominational
to describe a service that covers all Christian denominations; the regular IWU Chapel
Hour is an example of this. The term non-denominational
typically refers to Christian religions that develop their own specific beliefs,
which vary from church to church. The term interfaith
refers to services that include two or more religions.
Capitalize the names of religious orders and the terms applied to their members.
e.g. They are members of the Roman Catholic Church; They are Catholic
Do not capitalize terms such as church when used descriptively.
e.g. a Roman Catholic church
Terms such as rabbi or priest follow the same rules as other titles.
See also Titles
under Section II
The preferred term for someone who is either gay
or a lesbian
, though it is acceptable to use either. Bisexual may be used for someone who is sexually
attracted to members of both sexes. Transgender
should be used for an individual whose self-identified gender diverges from his or
her assigned gender. Transgender individuals may identify themselves as heterosexual
, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual
. Use transsexual
only when referring to an individual who has undergone a sex change operation. However,
choice of terminology should be left to individual or group preference.