Washington, DC (Monday, June 12, 2017) – This week, the Southern Baptist Convention will convene June 13–14 in Phoenix. A coalition of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and queer people (LGBTQ) will also be in Phoenix to challenge church teachings that have proven harmful to young LGBTQ people. We encourage news organizations covering the Southern Baptist Convention to do so fairly and accurately, which means presenting facts to their respective audiences.

In some religions and religious organizations, coverage of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people is controversial, and newsrooms struggle with how to cover this community. NLGJA − The Association of LGBTQ Journalists is here to help you ensure your coverage is not only fair, but accurate.

NLGJA is made up of working journalists and media professionals. We are not an advocacy group. Our mission is to ensure fair and accurate coverage of issues that affect the LGBTQ community.

Words matter when telling a story. Research has shown that LGBTQ teens and young adults have one of the highest rates of all suicide attempts. LGBTQ kids raised in condemning religious families are eight times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers. Nearly half of America’s homeless youth are LGBTQ. More than a quarter of LGBTQ youth say they have been personally bullied or harassed since the 2016 presidential campaign began, compared to 14 percent of non-LGBTQ youth. Among evangelicals, 51 percent of Millennials say homosexuality should be accepted, compared with about a third of Baby Boomers and a fifth of those in the Silent Generation. (Pew)

Depression and drug use among LGBTQ people have both been shown to increase significantly after new laws that discriminate are passed. Bullying of LGBTQ youth has been shown to be a contributing factor in many suicides, even if not all of the attacks have been specifically aimed at someone based on sexual orientation or gender-related bias. Transgender people are twice as likely to be unemployed — and four times as likely if they’re a trans woman of color. Lesbians and gays outnumber trans people six to one, yet transgender people are 50 percent more likely to be murdered.

NLGJA is happy to be a professional resource for you. We offer a stylebook on common word choice and tip sheets on issues that affect our community. You can find both at nlgja.org/resources.

Please feel free to contact us if we can be of assistance. We have members in local, national and international newsrooms who are experienced covering these types of issues. Thank you for your time and attention.


NLGJA− The Association of LGBTQ Journalists

Here are some terms you may encounter this week, as well as some information from our stylebook on how to handle things such as pronouns and terminology. There’s even more on our website, NLGJA.org.

bathroom bill
Politically charged term for a measure that seeks to grant or deny public accommodations for transgender individuals. Opponents often focus on access to public restrooms. Acceptable in direct quotes.
See transgender

closeted, in the closet
Refers to a person who wishes to keep secret his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.
See coming out

Preferred term for a person who wears clothing most often associated with a different gender, and who self-identifies as such. Not connected to sexual orientation. Not synonymous with transgender, drag queen or drag king.
See transvestite, transsexual, transgender

Originally a pejorative term for a lesbian, it is now being reclaimed by some lesbians. Offensive when used as an epithet. Use only if self-referential or in a quotation if there is a compelling reason.

Describes the movement, mostly rooted in conservative religions, that aims to change lesbian or gay individuals’ sexual orientation. Widely discredited in scientific circles.

fag, faggot
A pejorative term for a gay male. Extremely offensive when used as an epithet. Use only in a quotation if there is a compelling reason.

Refers to men who are attracted to other men; preferred over homosexual, which connotes clinical context or references to sexual activity. Avoid using as a singular noun. For women, “lesbian” is generally used, but when possible ask the subject which term she prefers. To include both, use “gays and lesbians.” In headlines where space is limited, “gay” is acceptable to describe both.
See homosexual, lesbian

An individual who intentionally does not conform to predominant binary gender roles or expression. Use only if self-referential or in a quotation where there is a compelling reason. As an adjective, “gender-bending.”

gender identity
An individual’s emotional and psychological sense of having a gender; feeling like a man, woman, both or neither (gender nonconformity). Does not necessarily align with an individual’s sex at birth.
See gender nonconforming

gender identity disorder
Avoid this outdated medical term, which has been replaced by “gender dysphoria.”
See transgender

gender nonconforming
When a gender identity or expression does not necessarily conform to the traditional view of two genders. Avoid the related academic term “gender variant.”

Avoid this outdated term.
See intersex

Pejorative term for homosexual. Use only if self-referential or in a quotation if there is a compelling reason.
See gay, homosexual, lesbian

As a noun, a person attracted to members of the same sex. As an adjective, of or relating to sexual and affectional attraction to a member of the same sex. Use only in medical contexts or in reference to sexual activity.
See gay, lesbian

Acceptable term for a male, legally married partner of a man. Ask which term the couple prefers, if possible.
See lover, partner, wife

An inaccurate term sometimes used to describe the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Sexual orientation may be part of a broader lifestyle but is not one in and of itself, just as there is no “straight” lifestyle. Avoid.
See sexual orientation, sexual preference

See sexual orientation, sexual preference

Originally a pejorative term for gay, now being reclaimed by some gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people as a self-affirming umbrella term. Some straight people who identify with LGBT culture, such as children of queer parents, call themselves “culturally queer.” Queer is still offensive as an epithet; best used only in quotations or for formal names of organizations or events.

sexual orientation
Innate sexual attraction. Use this term instead of “sexual preference,” which implies a conscious choice.
See lifestyle


About NLGJA – The Association of LGBTQ Journalists:
NLGJA is an organization of journalists, news executives, media professionals, educators and students working from within the news industry to foster fair and accurate coverage of LGBTQ issues. NLGJA opposes all forms of workplace bias and provides professional development to its members. For more information, visit www.nlgja.org.