Journalists LGBTQ+ Toolkit

“No journalist would cover a professional tennis match without getting an education in backhands, foot faults, player rankings and grand slams. But some reporters step into the world of LGBTQ+ people without taking the time to know what they’re reporting about.

Covering the LGBTQ+ community requires more research than a few viewings of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race.’ Consider: transgender people aren’t the same as drag queens. Outdated phrases such as “sexual preference” make journalists look clueless at best and insensitive at worst. And ‘outing’ someone without permission remains a dicey proposition, even in these days of growing sexual freedom.

NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists believes mainstream journalists have an obligation to be fair, balanced and accurate. We are dedicated to education, not advocacy. We are journalists ourselves and don’t want our colleagues to slant what they write or put on the airwaves.

We don’t expect anyone to blindly follow all the suggestions we make here. We are not the media police, and some of our own members will certainly disagree with some of the viewpoints expressed here. Our goal is simple: to provide thought-provoking resources to our colleagues as they cover one of the most diverse communities in America.”  – By Randy Dotinga, NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists Lifetime Member

How to Use the Toolkit

Our Journalists LGBTQ+ Toolkit is designed primarily to assist journalists who don’t normally cover the LGBTQ+ community. The advice here is drawn from outside media experts and our own members who are professional journalists for both mainstream media and the LGBTQ+ press. We also offer story ideas and new ways of thinking for reporters who are experienced in covering LGBTQ+ life.

The following articles are written in a news style, and as such, may include different views on how to cover the same topic:


Resources for Reporting on the Transgender Community

As a reporter or editor, you might find yourself in unfamiliar territory like Caleb Hannan did when he wrote “Dr. V’s Magical Putter,” the article from that prompted a wave of criticism over the weekend. In reporting about inconsistencies in claims about...

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Tip Sheets on LGBTQ Coverage – Are You Gay?

Introduction When is it appropriate to ask a subject to disclose their sexual orientation for a story? Is it ever? In spring 2012, a New York judge ruled it wasn’t defamatory to call someone gay, even if they were heterosexual. As more LGBTQ people come out and more...

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Why Journalists Coming Out (and Being Out) Still Matters

It's easy to be a little cynical about the news today that Anderson Cooper has confirmed, "the fact is, I'm gay." His endearing and interesting letter to Andrew Sullivan, who seems to have been out since the moment he burst onto the U.S. journalism scene, demonstrates...

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Covering Nondiscrimination Laws and the LGBTQ Community

Introduction Federal laws do not prohibit discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation in housing or employment. Without a federal law, a state or local law would therefore provide the only assurance or protection to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender...

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Career Advice – Getting that next Job

Written by NLGJA Staff Think you’re doing enough to get that next job? You’re not. Read more on the NLGJA Members Only Site This piece originally appeared in 2011, in the official newsmagazine of NLGJA.

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When a College Adviser Gives Bad Advice

Written by Sue Green It was March when I got the call – a call that made me sit back in my seat and go, are you frigging kidding??? It was a call from Bach in the national office concerning a message he had received from a young woman in New York. Bach was asking if I...

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One Year In

Written by Mary Susman A freshman year of college towards a career in journalism. Read more on the NLGJA Members Only Site This piece originally appeared in 2011, in the official newsmagazine of NLGJA.

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The Shared Experiment

Written by Doug Stewart I work in what might be termed an experiment. For the past year the broadcast station Fox Connecticut and The Hartford Courant newspaper have shared a newsroom, resources and content. Some people don’t like it, and some think it’s the future....

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Career Advice – Apply for the Job You Want

Written by Geoff Dankert One key to a successful job search may sound obvious, but it’s a trap a number of people fall into... Read more on the NLGJA Members Only Site This piece originally appeared in 2011, in the official newsmagazine of NLGJA. 

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