LGBTIQ+ Inclusive Language Guide

The LGBTIQ+ Inclusive Language guide explains some of the ways we can use language and other practices to ensure our LGBTIQ+ Deakin staff and students feel safe and included.

Communication plays an important role in creating a place to work and study which is free of discrimination based on sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.

Unless gender is relevant, aim to use gender-inclusive language and avoid making assumptions about someone’s gender based on name or physical features. People have different ways in which they prefer to be spoken to or about. If you are unsure of a person’s preferred terms, pronouns or identifiers, respectfully ask them.

  • Avoid using gendered pronouns such as ‘he’ or ‘she’. Instead, use ‘they’, ‘them’ or ‘their’ – or simply refer to them by their name. For example instead of “I met him/her yesterday” you could say “I met [the person’s name] yesterday” or “I met them yesterday”.
  • Avoid masculine and feminine forms of nouns. For example: ‘staff’ instead of ‘manpower’, ‘chairperson’ or ‘chair’ instead of ‘chairman’.
  • Consider whether you need the person’s title. Do you want to use this for formality? Historically titles were used to signify a person’s marital status, professional position and/or gender. These days someone’s marital status is generally not necessary information. If you feel it is necessary to include titles, ensure that you also include Mx for those who identify as non-binary or gender diverse where a traditional title may not be appropriate.

Inclusive Language

Gendered Language

They/their - gender-inclusive pronouns

He/him, She/hers






Welcome everyone…

Welcome ladies and gentlemen…

Office staff

Girls/boys in the office



Sexual orientation

Sexual preference

Rainbow family/family

Lesbian/gay family

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