NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists is excited to share an update regarding our name with our members and colleagues. Going forward, our organization will add a plus sign to “LGBTQ” to reflect the many identities that make up our growing community.
This decision comes after many conversations with our colleagues, partner organizations, and industry stakeholders. We are especially grateful to the Trans Journalists Association for their collaboration in this process – it is after many conversations with TJA co-founders that we have come to this decision. It is one that we stand by whole-heartedly and see as a step in our continuing journey to become more inclusive and reflect the needs of our members.
We realize that adding a plus may not go far enough for some of our members and colleagues, but be assured that this change is more than surface-level. Each of us has a deep commitment to the association’s mission, and because of that, I want to be transparent about why we are taking this approach.
Many of the nation’s leading LGBTQ+ organizations have struggled with the question of how to be the most inclusive of the populations we serve. Historic organizations like our own have shifted from their long names to acronyms that now represent the larger community. NCLR, GLAAD, and GMHC are all examples of organizations who have shifted to exclusive use of their recognizable acronyms, while moving away from the words each letter once represented.
Our communities are not monolithic, and as the past few years have shown us, it is more important than ever to show our support for all members of the LGBTQ+ community. As trans and nonbinary communities continue to be targeted by politicians and activists, we hope that this change will demonstrate our association’s commitment to supporting the members of those communities.
How did we get here?
It has been a long journey to this latest change. Many members have raised concerns that various iterations of our name have excluded members of our community, and our leadership and board have grappled with those concerns for many years.
Many have proposed a variety of solutions to those concerns, ranging from minor changes to a complete renaming, further illustrating that our communities are not a monolith. To address those concerns, the board implemented several changes over the past 15 years:
– In 2008, the board decided to rebrand to be more inclusive of more members of our community, incorporating a tagline referencing LGBT communities: NLGJA: The Association of LGBT Journalists. Our legal name has remained National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) for incorporation and tax-exemption purposes.
– In 2013, the organization added a “Q,” standing for “queer,” to our trade name to include members of our community that do not identify as LGBT, making the name NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists.
– In 2022, the organization began researching the cost to legally change our name to something different. After more than a year of research the board has determined that the process of renaming would be a costly and complicated process that would hinder our ability to continue supporting the communities we serve. After a number of conversations with TJA members and co-founders, the board agreed to evolve further, rebranding as NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists. This change is non-legal, and therefore will not incur the significant costs associated with a full, legal name change.
Why not just change the entire name to be more inclusive of everyone?
Legally changing the name of a tax-exempt nonprofit organization is an expensive and arduous process. The estimated cost to change our legal name ranges between $250,000-500,000. That is as much as 50% of our annual budget. The board feels that, at this moment, that amount of money is best spent serving the core tenets of our mission: educating our community; advancing our members’ careers through professional development; expanding LGBTQ+ presence in newsrooms; and ensuring fair and accurate coverage of LGBTQ+ communities. Adding the plus to the unofficial tagline is a change that will not incur the costs associated with a full, legal name change.
This decision has not been made lightly or hastily. In fact, conversations about the best name for our organization date back to its founding, when Roy Aarons presented the findings of the American Society of Newspaper Editor’s first landmark study, Alternatives: Gays and Lesbians in the Newsroom, in April 1990. The association was incorporated soon after and its early leaders pioneered the fight for better coverage, partner benefits, and workplace protections, setting the mission that still guides us today. Our leadership has had robust debate over the best ways to honor the legacy of the association’s founders and enduring mission.
What comes next?
More than 30 years after our founding, we are the world’s largest LGBTQ+ journalists organization, and our commitment to our members and our mission has not wavered. We are committed to ensuring the success of NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists and the advancement of our mission, and we know that you are, too. Our members are the heart of our association and we want to ensure that all our members are represented and heard. Today I am announcing the creation of Member Task Forces to help guide us forward. We invite you to become a part of these task forces, which will:
– help address coverage concerns and be included in Rapid Response Task Force responses, and conversations.
– advise the Convention Committee on panels and panelists to ensure our topics and speakers represent a diverse array of interests, expertise, and identity.
– advise the organization on the evolving needs of our member community.
– have a direct line to the board President to voice concerns and offer feedback.
Additional information about the Member Task Forces will be released in the weekly newsletter soon. If you would like to join one of our task forces, please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your interests and how you’d like to be involved. And please save the date for our National Convention at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel from September 7-10.
I was elected to represent the needs of our members and it is a responsibility that I take seriously. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with questions that you may have. I continue to be inspired by the conversations I have had with so many of you at the National Convention in September, and I feel that the association is in the strongest position we have ever been in because of our members’ hard work and dedication. I am committed to making this organization more welcoming, safe, and inclusive for all of our members and colleagues. I hear you. I see you. And I support you.