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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 20, 2022

PRESS CONTACT: Clare Lefebure

Press@nlgja.org

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 20, 2022) – Last night, Nov. 19, 2022, a gunman entered an LGBTQ club in Colorado Springs, CO, and opened fire, killing at least five people and injuring 18 others. As news outlets cover the attack, NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists is here to help ensure the coverage is both fair and accurate.

NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists 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 communities.

Here are a few guiding principles, as well as some information from our stylebook, on how to handle terminology while covering the story. More guidance can be found on our website, NLGJA.org.

  • Don’t assume someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Instead, ask the person when interviewing them how they identify if it is germane to the story.
  • Don’t use “gay” to include lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer. It is acceptable to use “gay” in headlines for space, but make sure to explain it further in the story.
  • Don’t use “homosexual” unless it is in a medical context. Use gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer or whatever term the person uses to self-identify.
  • Families, law enforcement, driver’s licenses or ID cards are not always the best source when identifying the gender and sexuality of victims. We urge reporters to rely on sources beyond those listed above, including self-identification on social media profiles or the local trans community, and to use the name and pronouns used most recently by the victims in life.
  • Include context in your coverage. Data indicates that attacks on LGBTQ individuals, communities, and gathering places have been on the rise in the United States (HRC Report) and the United Kingdom (Gov.uk Report) over the past several years. Laws across the country have been proposed or passed that restrict talking about the LGBTQ community in schools, prevent transgender children from seeking treatment or medical care. This current cultural climate is relevant to any incident of anti-LGBTQ violence, and should be noted in your coverage.
  • Respect the victims, but do not rush to “straight-wash” who was injured or killed. Be fair and accurate when covering the individuals killed or injured. After the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, many media organizations were overly cautious and avoided talking about the gender and sexuality of the victims. While straight people do attend gay clubs and bars, these places are often among the only places that members of the LGBTQ people can express themselves, congregate and feel accepted. Keep in mind that bars and nightclubs are important places to the LGBTQ community.
  • Take advantage of the resources that are available to you. There are a number of organizations beyond our association that offer guidance on reporting on anti-LGBTQ and anti-trans violence. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the Trans Journalists Association (TJA) and Media Matters collaborated on a report featuring Frequently Asked Questions for Reporters Writing About Anti-Trans Violence. TJA’s Style Guide is another tool that reporters, editors and media makers can use to improve their coverage of trans individuals and communities. For most of the public, the media is the primary source of information on LGBTQ and trans topics, so it is critical that coverage is as fair and accurate as possible.

Our Rapid Response Task Force is also available to assist journalists with fair and accurate coverage. This panel of working journalists from mainstream and LGBTQ media answers reports about reporting seen as unfair and/or inaccurate by readers, viewers, listeners and our peer journalists. Since its inception, the Rapid Response Task Force has not only informed countless newsrooms about appropriate terminology and the appearance of bias, but has also used these contacts to spread awareness about issues facing the LGBTQ community. The Task Force can be contacted at rrtf@nlgja.org.

NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists also has professional development available through our Newsroom Outreach Program. The project was designed to help newsrooms better understand the complexities of covering our diverse communities, while remaining unbiased. Please contact us at info@nlgja.org if we can be of assistance. We have members in local, national and international newsrooms who are experienced in covering these issues.

Thank you for your time and attention.