Inclusive Language

by Elizabeth Kirts Smith, MPH, ICCE, IBCLC, RLC

Last week, a blog I wrote for USLCA was published and I was called out for using Inclusive Language, specifically the word parent as a substitute for mother. Part of the concern was in regards to ICEA being an international organization and how using gender neutral language impacts women and possibly marginalizes them.

In response to this issue, first and foremost, I wrote the blog as a partnership to another organization and adhered to the language guidelines for that organization. I appreciate that USCLA recognizes that all families deserve dignity and respect.

I understand that women are subject to suppression simply because they are women. And with that, the term mother or mom can be empowering or simply important to them. We never want to dismiss this for our clients or patients who identify as female. The best way to approach this is to use more words rather than fewer whenever possible. The use of mother/birthing parent can capture both.

As an international organization, the Board of Directors frequently looks at language so that we can do our best to do the right thing for all our families. This is an evolving area and there will be changes. I, myself, and our Board of Directors are committed to hearing how we can support and educate all birthing families. One of our core values is compassion and by working for equity and diversity which is acceptance of all families, we are upholding our value.