While putting together this week’s issue of The Sentinel, we encountered a question that we had not fully considered until now.
In the Arts and Living section, we published a story about a theatre company that describes itself as telling stories “that are created by or are important to the LGBTQIA community.”
We realized that the LGBT acronym — which by itself stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender — has evolved over the years and grown to encompass people of other gender identities and sexual orientations. Some variations of the acronym include a P for pansexual while others use a Q to stand for queer or questioning. Certain letters can stand for several things, depending on what organization is using the acronym.
This sparked a discussion in our newsroom about how to properly and respectfully refer to the LGBT community. Some see the acronym and think, “Well, my gender identity isn’t included in that.” While it makes every effort to include each marginalized group as they rise to the surface, the acronym by nature will always be leaving someone out of its name.
We tried several different versions while discussing the matter. We considered using LGBT+ to indicate that there are more than just those four groups, but we learned that the symbol is also used to refer to those who are HIV positive. We researched other terms altogether to find a more blanket word for the community, but nothing seemed appropriate.
We also spoke with students in the GLBTIQ resource center on the Kennesaw campus. We wanted to get their honest perspective on the topic.
After considering all viewpoints, other publications, AP style and the acronym itself, The Sentinel has decided that it will always use “LGBT” when referring to that community.
What we want to make clear is that this should never be seen as an attempt to exclude any groups from this community. While The Sentinel does not take a stand on the issue itself, this publication wants to be clear, accurate and inclusive in its writing.
If anyone has any questions about this decision or any other course of action we take at this publication, I invite you to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is your student newspaper, and you have a voice in it, too.
The Sentinel newsroom has students from all walks of life, and all participated in this open dialogue. I am proud of our staff for fostering this discussion and welcoming different perspectives. Though AP style dictates that we use “LGBT,” we wanted to dig deeper and find out if that was really the best course of action.
Yes, we adhere to the stylebook for consistency and clarity, but journalism is not about words. As a veteran reporter once told me, “Our job is about people.”