Respectful Language Policy
To insure X Agency maintains a uniform policy regarding inappropriate language and that all staff and youth participants understand responsibilities and expectations around respectful language.
At X Agency our goal is to provide all young people with positive peer interactions and adult role models in a safe space where they can learn new skills and develop their self-confidence. Therefore, it is important that all young people use respectful language and that we do not tolerate inappropriate language, defined as putdowns related to their gender, race, culture, class, ability, size, or sexual orientation, when interacting with one another or with staff at the program.
Policy Standards and Procedure:
If a participant uses inappropriate language other youth participants and staff will respond by questioning or “calling out” the person’s language and explaining that it makes the space unsafe. If a participant continues to use inappropriate language, a staff person should meet one on one with them to explain the impact of disrespectful language on the program and to come up with an action plan for change. If the participant continues to use inappropriate language, a meeting with them, their parents or guardian, and the program director will be called. Finally, a youth may lose certain privileges or be asked to leave the program if they cannot stop using the inappropriate terminology.
Interactive trainings should be held on a regular basis for youth, staff, and community members to help everyone develop skills to intervene when youth or adults use inappropriate language.
Policy guidelines should be visible in the program area and posters or other materials that encourage positive behavior should be predominately displayed. Youth, supported by staff, can take an active role in creating materials.
For example, a new participant says, “stop acting so gay,” to another participant during homework hour. One of the other participants, who has been in the program longer and has participated in trainings, says, “we don’t say “gay” in a disrespectful way at this program. A lot of us have gay friends or family members and we want everyone to feel comfortable when they’re here.” A staff member overhears the conversation and gives a high five to the responding youth and offers to help the first youth come up with alternative word choices to express the same feelings.