Inclusive Language Guide presented at Cosumnes Community Services District meeting



In what was an otherwise short meeting, last night the Cosumnes Community Services District Directors reviewed a newly developed Inclusive Language Guide for district employees. 

Presenting the guide and report was Kelly Gonzalez, the CCSD's Director of Business & Public Affairs, who said the development of the guide grew out of the 2018 formation of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. The development of the guide is to encourage inclusive language when the district employee interacts with other employees and well as members of the community. 

"The guide represents a collection of resources from a variety of places, including the school district, public safety, parks and recreation agencies, as well as containing current best practices," she said. 

During her presentation, Gonzalez said district employees will be asked not to use certain terms or descriptive terms including but not limited to things such as race, gender, gender orientation, or a medical condition that are unnecessary. For instance, she said, describing someone as a diabetic lifeguard is not desirable.

Part of the presentation included several video clips of members of the committee that gave examples of the use of terms, that while not necessarily offensive, should be avoided. For example, the term man-hours should be substituted with staff hours or work hours.

It was also noted that while many terms may not be entirely offensive, changing years-long speech patterns takes time for adjustment. 

"We will all mess up at one point or another," Traci Farris, committee chair said during her video comments. "It is important to acknowledge it, lean into the moment as a learning opportunity, apologize if that what necessary and applicable, and make a commitment to do better to raise your awareness."  

Commenting on that point, Directer Jim Lutrell said he expects to make some mistakes, and appreciates there is room to make unintentional errors. Lutrell noted in his firefighting career his badge first said fireman but was changed years later to the gender-neutral firefighter.  

"I really like the part in there that said 'you will make a mistake,' and I do it often," he said. 

Director Jaclyn Moreno said she was impressed with the way the staff is leading on this topic.

"I know I have had several different jurisdictions approach that want to learn more about the guide," Moreno said. "I think we are leading the way here, and it's very exciting." 

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