The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released new terminology guidelines — "Preferred Terms for Select Population Groups & Communities" — and some critics may see these as another example of "wokeness" influencing a government institution.
"Language in communication products should reflect and speak to the needs of people in the audience of focus," CDC's "Inclusive Communication Principles" said on the web. "The following provides some preferred terms for select population groups; these terms attempt to represent an ongoing shift toward non-stigmatizing language.
"We recommend using this section as a guide and inspiration to reflect upon word choice and choose words carefully, inclusively, and appropriately for a specific use and audience. Best practices include engaging people from the population or community of focus to find out what they prefer."
The CDC appears to take issue with some commonly invoked terms, like "inmate, prisoner, convict/ex-convict, offender, criminal, parolee," or "detainee."
The recommendations eschew legal definitions for such substitutions as:
- People/persons who are incarcerated or detained.
- Partner/child of an incarcerated person.
- Persons in pre-trial or with charge.
- People who were formerly incarcerated.
- Persons on parole or probation.
- Persons detained by or under the custody of (specify agency).
The CDC also does not want to refer to individuals as "disabled, handicapped," or "hearing impaired."
Instead, they recommend more nuanced and wordy references:
- People with disabilities/a disability.
- People who are deaf or hard of hearing or who are blind or have low vision.
- People with an intellectual or developmental disability.
- People who use a wheelchair or mobility device.
And, CDC also mentions the terms "smoke," and "drug-users/addicts/drug abusers, alcoholics/abusers, persons taking/prescribed medication assisted treatment (MAT)," or persons who relapsed."
Instead the suggested terms are:
- Persons who use drugs/people who inject drugs.
- Persons with substance use disorder.
- Persons with alcohol use disorder.
- Persons in recovery from substance use/alcohol disorder.
- Persons taking/prescribed medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD).
- Persons who returned to use.
- People who smoke.
As per the new guidelines, even calling someone "homeless" is a practice in need of rethinking. Suggestions include:
- People experiencing homelessness.
- Persons experiencing unstable housing/housing insecurity/persons who are not securely housed.
- People experiencing unsheltered homelessness.
- Clients/guests who are accessing homeless services.
In a similar vein, under the guidelines, referring to someone as "homosexual" or "transgenders/transgendered/transsexual" gets some suggested replacements:
- LGBTQ (or LGBTQIA or LGBTQ+ or LGBTQIA2).
- Lesbian, gay, or bisexual (when referring to self-identified sexual orientation).
- MSM (men who have sex with men).
- Assigned male/female at birth.
- Designated male/female at birth.
- Gender non-conforming.
- Gender diverse.
- People/person with intersex traits.
- Singular they or their.
"Use gender-neutral language whenever possible (for example, avoid 'actress' and consider 'actor' instead for both male and female actors)," the guidelines added.
Eric Mack has been a writer and editor at Newsmax since 2016. He is a 1998 Syracuse University journalism graduate and a New York Press Association award-winning writer.
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