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Respectful Behavior

Don’t laugh at or tell offensive, anti-homosexual jokes.
Don’t make fun of people who don’t fit traditional gender stereotypes.
Don’t verbally or physically harass people perceived as homosexual.
Don’t be indifferent by passively accepting acts by others that demean people .
Don’t ignore the topic of homosexuality.
Don’t refer to LGBT individuals as less than human, mentally ill, or as a danger to society by using such terms as “deviant,” “disordered,” “dysfunctional,” “diseased,” “perverted,” or “destructive”.

Avoid oppression through lack of action by recognizing homophobia in others and being uncomfortable but refusing to say anything – condoning with silence.
Avoid oppression by not participating in activities or programs because people might think you are gay or lesbian.
Avoid defamatory language such as “fag,” “faggot,” “dyke,” “homo,” “queen,” “she-male,” “he-she,” “tranny,” and similar epithets.
Avoid associating homosexuality with pedophilia, child sexual abuse, bestiality, or incest.

Assume that in any group LGBT individuals may be present – or may have family members and friends who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.
Confront politely when approached with racially offensive or anti-homosexual jokes, slurs, use of demeaning terms and labels.
Mediate between people with differing opinions.

Use the term “sexual orientation” rather than “alternative lifestyle” or “sexual preference.”
Use terms such as “significant other” or “partner” rather than “girlfriend” or “boyfriend.”
Use “committed relationship” rather than “marriage.”

Be proactive to educate yourself about cultural diversity and LGBT issues.
Recognize the efforts of others to confront inappropriate behaviors and effect change.
Encourage, reward, and support colleagues, students, and employees who are inclusive and respectful of differences among people.
Appreciate differences among individuals within groups.

(From UAB Safe Zone)


Words Hurt

"Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me."

-Old Proverb

“Sticks and stones will break our bones, but words will break our hearts.”

-Robert Fulghum


According to Wikipedia: "Political correctness is a term which denotes language, ideas, policies, and behavior seen as seeking to minimize social and institutional offense in occupational, gender, racial, cultural, sexual orientation, certain other religions, beliefs or ideologies, disability, and age-related contexts. To be politically incorrect connotes language, ideas, and behavior unconstrained by a perceived orthodoxy or by concerns about offending or expressing bias regarding various groups of people."


Choosing the right words is a good start in acting with civility. It is important to be sensitive to others and avoid using offensive language or hurtful words.  The words we used have an impact on other people and can cause harm.  So, out of a genuine sense of caring and compassion, and not simply because we want to be "politically correct," we should seek to understand others and communicate with respect.


Where words hurt, civility heals.  According to the Civility Project, "We build a stronger and more diverse community by actively sharing our ideas and opinions with others in thoughtful and considerate ways. By practicing this basic commitment to civility, we learn and grow from one another – even in disagreement."  They offer these tips:


--Pay Attention – Be Aware of Others & Sensitive to the Immediate Context of Actions

--Listen Closely – Understand Other Points of View

--Be Inclusive – Welcome All; Don't Exclude Anyone

--Don't Gossip – Remind Others of the Importance of this Practice

--Show Respect – Honor Others, especially in disagreement

--Be Agreeable – Find Opportunities to Agree

--Apologize Sincerely – Repair Damaged Relationships

--Give Constructive Comments, Suggestions & Feedback – No Personal Attacks

--Accept Responsibility – Don't Shift Blame; Share Disagreements Publicly




Slideshow: Respectful & Inclusive

Jason Alexander Apologizes for Inappropriate "Gay" Jokes
Video: Words Hurt
Video: Anti-Bullying Awareness
Huffington Post: The Word "Gay"


Showing Respect: Practical Tips

Educate oneself regarding cultural diversity issues
Support LGBT events, programs, and services
Encourage non-discrimination departmental and institutional policies
Assist in developing and publicizing LGBT and cultural diversity resources
Inform students what they need to do if they feel harassed
Avoid heterosexist language and assumptions
Listen non-judgmentally, with respect
Offer assistance, make appropriate referrals, and provide accurate information
Provide confidentiality

(From UAB Safe Zone)


Respectful Classroom Discussions


Preparing the class:
Include in the course syllabus a statement of class policy indicating students are to show respect for all individuals in class discussion and interaction.  Include expectations and guidelines for respectful class discussion. In reviewing the course syllabus at the beginning of the course, emphasize and discuss the expectations and guidelines, giving examples.


Suggested Guidelines:
In stating one’s opinion or belief, declare it as one’s own personal opinion or belief rather than making a judgmental statement about another student or another student’s opinion or belief.

Students are encouraged to make “I” statements rather than “You” statements. For example: “I believe adults of the same sex should not be allowed to marry.” rather than saying: “You are wrong about same sex marriage…You don’t know what you are talking about.”

Students are encouraged to acknowledge another student’s point of view or position before stating one’s own. This practice fosters understanding of different points of views and ensures clear communication. A suggested response: “Your position on this issue is…That is what is true for you. I have a different position. Here is what I believe…”

Distinguish between personal opinion, reflecting personal values, and facts, documented by research and evidence, supported by scholarly and appropriate references. Making this distinction is very important in classes where students are asked to take and present a certain position on a class topic.

In discussing positions and making presentations that relate to race, ethnicity, religion, gender, as well as sexual orientation, students are expected to be respectful of other students who might be different from the speaker in any of these characteristics.


Curriculum Considerations:
Where appropriate, include information about LGBT people who have made contributions to the subject of the course and use examples of LGBT people in lectures and discussion, where appropriate to the subject matter.

Expand library holdings to ensure LGBT people who have contributed to the field of study are included


Professor Behavior and Modeling:
Take seriously one’s responsibility to create a respectful learning environment, one that is supportive of and safe for all students regardless of the differences represented in the class.

Avoid heterosexist assumptions and language, using inclusive, respectful language in all interactions with students, formal and informal.
Be informed about LGBT issues and support LGBT events, programs, and services.

Be aware of services for LGBT students and make appropriate referrals for students who need the assistance of services (counseling center, procedures for reporting bias and harassment incidents, etc.)

(From Dr. Glenda Elliott / UAB School of Education)



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Association for Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender Issues in Counseling of Alabama