National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA)

About This Guide

The words we use matter — language has the power to uplift as well as marginalize. From the time we start learning how to communicate, we unconsciously take in the implicit biases in our language. We may not realize certain words, and how we use them, can be damaging to others. With so many ways to convey a single thought, finding the “right” word can be difficult. With the constant evolution of language, personal preferences and changing contexts, the “right” word rarely exists. However, understanding which words may be more appropriate than others in certain situations can reinforce our values of diversity, equity and inclusion while inviting others into our work. Most importantly, when we make thoughtful word choices, we can be part of creating a more inclusive environment.

As the creators of community, park and recreation professionals can especially benefit from using language that is inclusive and welcoming for all people. This guide can help those in the field of parks and recreation use consistent and appropriate terms related to diversity, equity, inclusion, race, age, gender, sexual orientation, ability and more.

Developed by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), this guide includes content from leading language guides, as well as resources from multiple organizations, associations, researchers and more. It is meant to reflect terminology most applicable to parks and recreation and related professions; however, it is not an all-encompassing equity glossary. Additional resources are listed at the end of each definition, as well as at the end of this guide.

NRPA hopes this guide will inspire more inclusive communication throughout the park and recreation profession — helping create communities where everyone feels welcome to participate fully as their true selves.

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