At urging of the NY State Bar Association, ABA Votes To Support LGBTQ Inclusive Language in Court Proceedings Nationwide
The American Bar Association adopted a new policy spearheaded by the New York State Bar Association on the use of gender inclusive language in all court matters across the country. The resolution passed by a wide margin at the ABA meeting today in New Orleans.
The policy, called a bench card, provides information and guidance for judges on the use of LGBTQ+ inclusive language and pronouns, including how to interact with transgender, non-binary, and gender expansive court users in accordance with the Judicial Rules of Conduct.
The policy outlines the use of she, he and they pronouns and encourages judges to avoid using gender specific words like “ladies and gentlemen.” The policy also deals with topics of gender expression, identity and gender confirmation surgery.
The bench card was developed by the New York State Ninth Judicial District Access to Justice Committee’s LGBTQ+ Subcommittee. It was adopted by the New York State Unified Court System’s Office of Court Administration and by the New York State Bar Association House of Delegates. With the adoption of this policy, the ABA encourages lawyers and judges in all 50 states to adopt this gender inclusive language.
NYSBA President Sherry Levin Wallach led a New York delegation to the meeting and expressed her support of the resolution. “Our profession must be vigilant in protecting the LQBTQ+ community, and especially transgender individuals, within the courtroom and encourage judges to foster an environment free of bias, prejudice, and harassment,” she said.
The resolution reminds judges of a duty to foster an environment free of bias, prejudice and harassment. “Judges act in accordance with this rule by respecting an individual’s requested pronouns,” the resolution said. “Failure to refer to someone using their preferred pronouns manifests bias and prejudice as to the individual’s gender identity and gender expression.”
The resolution urges federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal courts nationwide to use the policy to ensure a welcoming and safe space for members of the LGBTQ community.