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Guideline: Gender inclusive language


To provide guidance on the use of gender inclusive language.


  1. The University Strategic Plan 2017-2021 contains the University values and states that ‘we are inclusive, open and respectful, reflecting the diversity of our nation.’ As part of the University's ongoing commitment to achieving equity within ANU and in society, these guidelines are to ensure that all people in the University community are treated in a dignified and non-discriminatory manner regardless of their gender identity.
  2. Communications and data collection is to be conducted in a manner that is inclusive of diverse gender identities, and guided by the following:
  • All communications of the University (written, oral or visual form) should use gender inclusive language that does not discriminate (including by invisibility) against certain people on the basis of their gender identity. These identities include, for example, female, male, intersex or trans persons. For information on what kind of language is exclusionary and the definitions of different gender identities, go to the following fact sheet.
  • Forms or surveys used by the University should only collect gender data where it is demonstrably relevant to the provision of University services or otherwise necessary for research or other purposes.
  • In all cases where gender data is collected, the University should provide a gender inclusive option. Where this information is required, the question should ask for ‘gender identity’ rather than ‘sex’ or ‘gender’. In addition to ‘male’ and ‘female’ options, individuals should be given the option to select ‘intersex’ and/or ‘none of the above’. Further information on the collection of gender data is available through the Australian Government Guidelines on the Recognition of Sex and Gender.
  • From time to time the University is required to collect gender data as part of a survey or form distributed by a third party and failure to do so can result in penalty. Where gender data is collected in these instances, the University will collect it in an inclusive manner (see point above), or where this is not possible, have made reasonable efforts to do so.


Printable version (PDF)
Title Gender inclusive language
Document Type Guideline
Document Number ANUP_000744
Version 6
Purpose To enable students, staff and associates of the University to treat each other with respect and dignity regardless of their gender identity through the use of gender inclusive language practices.
Audience Staff, Students
Category Administrative
Topic/ SubTopic Equity & Diversity - Equity
Effective Date 19 Jul 2018
Review Date 19 Jul 2021
Responsible Officer: Director, Human Resources
Approved By: Director, Human Resources
Contact Area Human Resources Division
Authority Sex Discrimination Act 1984
Discrimination Act 1991