People with Disabilities

  • Do not focus on disability unless it is crucial to a story. Always put people first, not their disability. Emphasize abilities, not limitations. Show people with disabilities as active participants of society.

Ethnic Sensitivities

  • Always ask individual preference.
  • African American/black: It’s acceptable to use these interchangeably to describe black people in the United States. When referring to a specific individual, use the term he or she prefers.
  • American Indian/Native American: The two terms are synonymous. Some indigenous people in the United States prefer “American Indian” to “Native American.” It’s best to use individual preference, if known. When possible, use national affiliation rather than the generic “American Indian” or “Native American,” for example, Navajo, Hopi, Cherokee. To specify someone was born in the U.S., but isn’t Native American, use native-born. Common practice in certain media is to include official tribal affiliation in parenthesis after the first mention of the name, e.g. Sherman, Alexie (Spokane/Coeur d’Alene)
  • Asian, Asian American: Use “Asian” when referring to anyone from Asia, but use “Asian American” when specifically referring to those of Asian ancestry who are American citizens. Some Asian Americans prefer ethic or national affiliation, e.g. “Filipino American” or “Hmong American.”
  • Mexican American, Hispanic, Latino/Latina: Use “Mexican” when referring to anyone of Mexican citizenship, and use “Mexican American” when referring to those of Mexican ancestry who are permanent residents or citizens of the United States. “Hispanic” and “Latino/Latina” are umbrella terms referring to a person whose ethnic origin is in a Spanish-speaking country, as well as residents or citizens of the United States with Latin American ancestry. Many Latinos find the term “Hispanic” offensive. Please be sure to ask.
  • Please avoid the word “gypsy,” especially in regard to Roma people, unless the person in question refers to onself as such.

*Adapted from the News Watch Diversity Style Guide

Religious/Ethnic Holidays

  • To respect the wide variety of religions on our campus, use “holiday party” rather than “Christmas party” and “winter break” rather than “Christmas break.”


  • Use the preferred references: fraternities and sororities. The term “Greeks” or “Greek organizations” is OK. Don’t use the term “frats.”

Gender Sensitivities

  • Our recommendation is to take a little extra time to construct your sentences so you can avoid having to use gender-specific terms. For example, by using plural pronouns (“they,” “their”) you can avoid having to use the awkward but gender sensitive construction “he/she” or “his/her.” (But don’t sacrifice grammar in the process. When opting for plural pronouns, make sure antecedents and verbs are also plural.)
  • Instead of “chairman,” use “chair.” Instead of “waiter/ waitress,” use “server.” Instead of “mailman,” use “postal carrier.” It’s also becoming more common to see the term “actor” used for men and women.
  • In interviews, please ask the interviewee what pronouns they use, even with individuals you assume to be cis-gendered.  This both signals to the individual being interviewed that we are an inclusive culture and avoids unintintional misrepresentation of individuals.

Sexual Orientation

  • gay/lesbian: “Gay” is acceptable and preferable as a synonym for homosexuals, primarily males. “Lesbian” is preferred for women. When possible, use “gay and lesbian.” It’s best to use “gay” as an adjective, not a noun, for example, “gay man,” “gay people.” Where space is an issue, “gay” is acceptable to include both gays and lesbians.
  • gay lifestyle: Avoid this term. There is no one gay lifestyle, just as there’s no one heterosexual lifestyle.
  •  gay relationships: Gay, lesbian and bisexual people use various terms to describe their commitments. If possible, ask the individual what term he or she prefers. Otherwise, “partner” is generally acceptable.
  • homosexual: This is the medical/clinical term for lesbians and gays. (adj.) Of or relating to sexual and affectional attraction to a member of the same sex. (n.) A person who is attracted to members of the same sex. “Gay” or “lesbian” is the preferred term in all contexts, except clinical.
  • LGBTQA: Acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and ally communities.
  • Some people may prefer the term “queer.”
  • Gender neutral pronouns are they, their, them and ze, hir (pronounced like “here”) and hirs (pronounces like “here’s”). When we use pronouns like “she” or “he” to identify a person before we ask them, we are making an assumption about that person’s gender that might be different from their gender identity. We can avoid making incorrect assumptions about gender pronouns by asking which pronouns people use or by using gender-neutral pronouns.

*Adapted from the News Watch Diversity Style Guide.


Diversity and Visual Assets

Images, as well as text, convey a great deal of information about the College of Fine Arts. When originating visual material and selecting visual content for print and digital media, carefully consider issues of inclusiveness and diversity in representations of student populations, faculty and programs.