The North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN) recently launched a campaign called #SpeakingUpSpeaksVolumes to support the LGBTQ+ community. The campaign suggests that people drop gendered terms like mom, dad, husband, or girlfriend and use gender-neutral terms instead. (1)
Health Network In Australia Asks People To Drop Gendered Terms
The new campaign started by the NWMPHN wants to encourage people to be more inclusive in their language to make all people feel more seen and accepted. Among their recommendations are for people to drop gendered terms in lieu of more inclusive ones. The suggested terms include (1):
- Parent or guardian for mom and dad
- Partner or spouse for husband, wife, girlfriend, or boyfriend
They ask that people take note of the pronouns that others are using and do their best to use those. If they are unsure, ask. If they mess up, apologize and continue the conversation using the correct ones. The goal is to use language that doesn’t assume someone’s gender or identity and thus making them feel less excluded and isolated. (1)
It Goes Beyond Language
Other suggestions they’ve made include unisex bathrooms and non-gendered sports teams. The changes, particularly those to the terms we use to describe someone, are far more important than heterosexual, gender normative people may realize. The best way to describe it is to imagine how uncomfortable or upset you would feel if you were referred to as the opposite gender. This is a reality that many LGBTQ+ people face daily. (1)
“With inclusive language, people are not left feeling unseen, isolated or disrespected,” says the NWMPHN. “And if you make a mistake, apologise and then continue the conversation. Being inclusive is not about getting it right all the time, as long as we’re trying.” (1)
Here For Positive Change
The NWMPHN wants to be clear that this does not mean getting rid of gendered pronouns altogether but rather using gender-neutral terms in group settings and with individuals until you know what pronouns and terms they identify with. The goal is to tackle bullying and discrimination, particularly among young people and children. (1)
“We’re encouraging people to speak up and actively support LGBTIQ+ children and young people because when someone is experiencing bullying, silence often feels like indifference, which can create a terrible sense of isolation,” said NWMPHN CEO Chris Carter. (1)
The campaign aims to address and improve upon the mental health of LGBTQ+ teens and youth. In particular, they want to decrease the suicide rate among these individuals. Something simple as being referred to by the correct pronoun, and seeing that represented in group settings, health care, and the media, helps these people feel more accepted. This boosts their self-esteem and overall has an incredibly positive impact on their mental health. (1)
If you work in health care and are curious about adding these practices into your own work, the NWMPHN has a course you can take on how to implement more gender-inclusive terms in your practice. The module only takes about an hour and will help you achieve all of the previously mentioned goals of the campaign. (2)
- “Statement on the #SpeakingUpSpeaks Volumes campaign.” NWMPHN. April 12, 2021
- “LGBTIQ support.” NWMPHN
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