UNC 'inclusive language' guide tells students, faculty to avoid terms 'poor,' 'homeless,' and 'opposite sex'

The University of North Carolina’s Student Affairs Communications currently provides students and faculty with a list of inclusive language. The terms list suggests that terms such as “minorities,” “poor,” “illegal immigrant,” “homeless,” and “opposite sex” not be used.

“Carolina is committed to creating an inclusive and equitable learning environment for every Tar Heel,” the university’s webpage says. “To fully represent the diversity of our students, faculty, staff and everyone in our community, it is important to use language that supports these values.”

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The university urges against using language that “imply binaries,” so instead of “opposite sex,” the university suggests using “another sex” or “another gender.”

In cases where someone doesn’t know whether “Mr.” or “Ms.” is appropriate, the university tells students to “use the gender nonspecific ‘Mx.’”

One section of the list provides students with titles and names to avoid. “Mother and father” become “parent” so as not to discriminate against same-sex couples. Alternatives to the word “minorities” include “minoritized,” “underrepresented groups” and “BIPOC.”  The phrase “low income” becomes “people whose incomes are below the federal poverty threshold,” or “people whose self-reported income was in the lowest income bracket.”

Possible replacements for “illegal immigrant” are “individuals who are undocumented,” “people who are undocumented,” or simply “undocumented.” The university also proposes “DACA students.”

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Another section, titled “gendered nouns,” tells students to replace language that favors one or both sexes. Some of the words include “freshman,” which the university substitutes with “first-year student,” and “men and women,” which the university supplants with “everyone,” “folks,” “all people,” or “people of all genders.”

Campus Reform first covered UNC’s inclusive language efforts in 2012 when the university dropped the term “freshman” from official documents.

UNC Student Affairs Communication supports “branding and internal and external communications in alignment with the Student Affairs mission and strategy.” The department offers the inclusive language sheet as part of its mission.

Campus Reform contacted all parties for comment. This story will be updated accordingly.