WHITE PLAINS – The Office for Justice Initiatives of the NYS Office of Court Administration has published a “Best Practices” benchcard guide for judges that provides information and guidance when using LGBTQ+ inclusive language and pronouns. The guidance places an emphasis on how to interact with transgender court users.
The benchcard was developed by the Ninth Judicial District Access to Justice Committee LGBTQ+ Subcommittee and distributed to judges in late October of this year.
“Words used in court – whether by a judge or anyone else – matter, as does a respectful and inclusive tone,” the email stated. “By using inclusive language judges and other court personnel can ensure that all participants in the legal process will feel that they are being treated equally and with respect.”
The Office of Court Administration recommends judges consult the Stylebook Supplement on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Terminology, published by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association for proper terminology.
The memo also said “Judges have an obligation to foster a judicial environment free of bias, prejudice, and harassment,” while warning of potential penalties for failing to adhere to the guidance. “It is ‘misconduct’ to discriminate based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Judges have been advised that when an attorney or litigant has advised the court of their preferred gender pronoun such as “they”, a judge may not require them to instead use “he” or “she”.
Source: Mid-Hudson News