July 19, 2019

UCalgary guidelines updated for communicating about gender and sexual diversity

Directions help ensure fair, accurate, inclusive coverage of LGBTQ2S+ community

Language, like society itself, evolves. In the public realm, the terms used to define demographic groups grow and change, and it is essential for public institutions to acknowledge this shift in terminology by adjusting their language to meet these societal shifts.

To respond to these changes, the University of Calgary adjusts its UCalgary News Style Guide, the reference tool for those who write on behalf of the university for widely read publications. The guide encourages a fair, accurate, inclusive and consistent approach in how UCalgary presents itself to  internal and external audiences — students, faculty, staff, alumni, volunteers, donors, government, media, community partners and others. The guide is a resource for producers of online as well as printed publications and other materials such as posters and social media posts.  

“At the University of Calgary, we recognize the need to make changes to our guide from time to time, to reflect and appropriately acknowledge this evolution in terminology,” says Philippe Reicher, associate vice-president, Strategic Communications.

Recently, the UCalgary News Style Guide was adapted to consider language usage when identifying Indigenous Peoples, and last year, changes were made to the naming conventions related to the scholarly achievements of UCalgary’s academic staff.

Now, following consultations with internal and external stakeholders in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two-spirit, and allies (LGBTQ2S+) community, the Style Guide has been revised again. The updated Style Guide broadens the scope of how members of this varied and diverse community should be identified in public-facing communications.

“In reviewing our section on inclusive language,” says Reicher, “it became apparent that UCalgary needed to make adjustments to this part of the guide, particularly in the area of language surrounding the LGBTQ2S+ community.” 

UToday editors have now updated the inclusive language section, adding greater direction for those writing about gender and sexual diversity. “The university is uniquely positioned as a leading institution to help define and encourage the use of inclusive language,” says David Hedley, UToday managing editor.

“We welcome the opportunity to take this important step and we’re grateful for the informed, knowledgeable perspectives of those in the LGBTQ2S+ community who advised us.”

For decades, the Canadian Press Stylebook has been the standard style guide for public-facing official communications at most Canadian universities, including UCalgary. While the university will continue to be guided by CP style on most style questions, editors will continue to add layers of detail specific to the university context when necessary.