Parenting With 2SLGBTQIA+ Inclusive Language

Parenting With 2SLGBTQIA+ Inclusive Language

Happy Pride Month! Pride month is the perfect time to reflect on our use of inclusive language in all aspects of our lives including parenting. Whether you know if your child identifies as 2SLGBTQIA+ or not, there are a few things you can do to make them feel more comfortable with sharing their identity, and supporting their peers as well. This includes language that includes various gender identities, diverse families, and romantic partners.

Spectrum: Waterloo Regions Rainbow Community Space has recently published a 2SLGBTQIA+ Terminology and Media Reference tool that outlines many do’s and don’ts when it comes to inclusive language. Guide can be found here. To summarize:

Biological Sex refers to someone’s chromosomes, genitalia and hormones. It does not define someone’s gender which is someone’s internal sense of self. Someone’s gender may not align with the gender they were assigned at birth. When someone’s gender aligns with the gender they were assigned at birth, they are called cisgender. 

Sexuality refers to the types of people someone is attracted to. It is important to note that gender and sexuality are both spectrums that have a multitude of identities along each. Part of using inclusive language is acknowledging that gender and sexual identities are not black and white, there is no one or the other. So using language that includes individuals of all identities models to your child that it is okay to identify in whichever way makes them feel comfortable. 

Since gender identity isn’t a binary concept that only includes boys and girls, the use of they/them/theirs as pronouns can help include everyone. It can be awkward to change your language at first but give it a try! With practice, it starts to come more naturally. The intent of using gender inclusive language isn’t to ban the use of the words boy, girl, mom, or dad. The goal is to make sure everyone is included when we are referring to groups of people or folks we don’t know and make your child and others feel comfortable and open to diverse expressions of gender and sexuality. 

Here are some tips that can help parents & caregivers use 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusive language:

-Instead of immediately asking your child if their new friend is a girl or a boy, try asking them what they like about their new friend. Removing gender from the center of conversations about peers can show them that gender identity is not the most important thing about a person.

-Instead of addressing a group by saying “girls and boys”, “ladies” or  “you guys”, try calling a group by “folks”, “friends”, “students”, or “kiddos”.

-Instead of speaking about other families and assuming they have “moms and dads”, try calling them “grown-ups”, “parents” or “family members”. This shows your child that families don’t always just have moms and dads. 

-Instead of talking about professionals using gendered terms like “fireman”, “mail-man”, or “ballerina”, try saying “fire fighter”, “mail carrier”, or “ballet dancer” etc. This shows them that they can pursue any career or ambition regardless of gender.

-Instead of asking your older children or peers if they have or want a boyfriend or girlfriend, try saying “are you seeing anyone?” “you can always feel free to talk to me about romantic partners” etc. This opens the opportunity to share their relationships and interests with you.

Overall, the best thing we can all do is continue to learn and listen with an open mind. Be mindful of diverse families and identities. Speaking to children with inclusive language shows them that you are open to learn and have discussions about their identities or their peers. If you have more questions, feel free to sign up for either of our virtual inclusive language workshops with Registered Social Worker; Maxwell Beckett (they/them).

Link to register for Caring Professionals Workshop – Wed June 21 at 7:00pm

Link to register for Parents & Caregivers Workshop – Thurs June 22 at 7:00pm