Gender Neutral Language: A Brief Introduction

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Gender Neutral Language: A Brief Introduction

For Francophonie Month, the Pride Centre is working to help University of Ottawa students learn about gender-neutral terms in French. Using gender-neutral terms can help provide a safe, welcoming, and inclusive space for individuals of all gender identities!

What are Gender Neutral Terms and Why are they Important?

Gender neutral terms and language do not place emphasis on a person’s gender. Basically, these terms are used in such a way that they avoid gender entirely. The Department of Justice (2020) recognizes that there is an increasing demand and need for gender neutral language. They emphasize that not only is the use of gender neutral language more accurate when describing groups of people, but it is respectful for those who are being addressed or described. Furthemore, using gender neutral language is “consistent with the values of equality recognized, for example, in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms … professionally responsible and is mandated by the Federal Plan for Gender Equality”. 

As societal beliefs change with developments in education, people’s understanding of our world, and social justice and activism, gender neutral terms have become a significant part of language development throughout the years. To help you become more gender inclusive with your language, we’re going to help you learn about more gender neutral language to use in your everyday life!