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.

NRPA’s Equity Language Guide is a glossary of terms to help park and recreation professionals develop a common language around diversity, equity and inclusion. It also provides guidance to help people become familiar with terms they may not be aware of and best practices for making your writing accessible. This is a living document and will change frequently. Please bookmark and return to this page so you always have access to the latest version.

Download the Equity Language Guide

This document was last updated on October 21, 2021.*

*If the date on the cover of NRPA’s Equity Language Guide does not match the date here, please refresh your browser and/or clear your cache as the PDF may be cached by your web browser.  

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