This Sunday is Zero Discrimination Day. On March 1stpeople from all over the world join together to celebrate a day devoted to ending discrimination.
Discrimination has many forms. Discrimination is the unjust and harmful treatment of someone who is different. People may be discriminated against because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, illness, and more.
Stigma and discrimination are different, but they tend to go hand in hand. Stigma is a negative stereotype, or a “labelling of differences”, that begins to separate people into categories of “us” and “them”. Discrimination is the behaviour that results from those stereotypes.
In the field of FASD, research into stigma and discrimination is extremely important because stigma and discrimination affect everyone that we serve. Women face stigma and discrimination as a result of their substance use. Mothers and caregivers of individuals with FASD face stigma and discrimination as a result of their child’s behaviour or diagnosis. Individuals with FASD face discrimination as a result of their disability.
There are a number of ways that you can fight stigma and discrimination:
1. Change your language: Stigma and stereotypes are born from the language that we use, which separates people into categories of “us” and “them”. To stop stigma and discrimination, use strength-based, person-first languagethat focuses on the individual and not on their differences. Find more language and message guides here.
2. Share your knowledge: Stigma often comes from a lack of understanding and empathy. Despite the fact that 4% of Canadians are estimated to have FASD, this disability is not well understood or recognized by the majority of the population. Take the time to learn more about FASD and substance use and share your knowledge with others.
3. Practice the STOP method: The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) uses the STOP method to help you to recognize actions and attitudes that contribute to the stigmatization of people with mental health conditions. This method can be adapted to recognize stigma in any form.
Does what you hear:
Stereotype a certain group of people by assuming they are all alike?
Trivialize or belittle a certain group of people or their identity?
Offend a certain group of people by insulting them?
Patronize a certain group of people by treating them as if they are not as good as other people?
4. Speak up: If you see stigmatizing language in your everyday life, say something. Call or write to the newspaper, magazine, book, radio station, T.V. show, movie, or advertiser and send them our media guide. Help them understand and recognize how their language affects other people.
On March 1st, let’s fight for zero discrimination. Share your thoughts and experiences on social media using the hashtag #ZeroDiscrimination.