Just when we thought The Dallas Morning News might be making a little progress on LGBT issues, they’ve gone and dropped another H-bomb. In this story posted on The DMN’s Web site this afternoon, the newspaper reports that police have found hundreds of “homosexual” images and videos on the district-issued laptop of a former Mesquite school board member.
The Associated Press Stylebook specifically says to avoid “homosexual” except in clinical contexts or references to sexual activity, and I’m sure DMN editors would argue that this is a reference to sexual activity. But Rafael McDonnell at Resource Center Dallas notes that if they really want some guidance on the issue, they should turn to the Media Reference Guide put out by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. Here’s the GLAAD entry, which appears under the heading “Offensive Terms to Avoid”:
Offensive: “homosexual” (n. or adj.)
Preferred: “gay” (adj.); “gay man” or “lesbian” (n.); “gay person/people”
Please use “gay” or “lesbian” to describe people attracted to members of the same sex. Because of the clinical history of the word “homosexual,” it is aggressively used by anti-gay extremists to suggest that gay people are somehow diseased or psychologically/emotionally disordered – notions discredited by the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association in the 1970s. Please avoid using “homosexual” except in direct quotes. Please also avoid using “homosexual” as a style variation simply to avoid repeated use of the word “gay.” The Associ- ated Press, The New York Times and The Washington Post restrict use of the term “homosexual” (see AP, New York Times & Washington Post Style).
Also, if you want proof that this actually matters and isn’t just an issue of political correctness, go here.
UPDATE: The story has now been changed to say that police found hundreds of “sexual” images, instead of “homosexual.” Also, the word “gay” has been removed from the headline. Interesting.