GOOGLE: A New Literacy Tool Promoting Inclusive LGBTQ+ Language

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LGBTQ inclusive language glossary and definitions

I’m queer trans nonbinary. Queer was once a derogatory term. It was what bullies used to describe me when they used their language against my. Our language evolved with society and attitudes. We also learned to understand the power words we use to empower or discredit people.

VideoOut launched The LGBTQ+ Learning Project in 2011. This project has multiple phases. It includes a comprehensive educational resource as well as live community events. These help us reach our long-term goal of building a museum at the National Mall. The Google News Initiative has supported us every step of the way during the first phase – the LGBTQ+ Language and Media Literacy Program.

Partnering with the GNI gave VideoOut the opportunity to work with a team of PhD linguists from the LGBTQ+ community to research the origin, evolution and current usage of 100 words and phrases that range from clinical terminology, like HRT and dysphoria, to slang terms used in niche communities like drag and ballroom. We will continue to expand the data visualization, designed by Polygraph, and employ Google Trends technology to show the popularity of search terms over time.

This tool helps journalists navigate the complex world of LGBTQ+ vernacular. It shows who is to be credited for words that are part of marginalized communities. It also provides information to help reporters use LGBTQ+ terminology in a respectful and accurate manner.

The program is designed to educate people less familiar with the LGBTQ+ community in the hopes of encouraging allyship and warming attitudes. To that end, we’ve partnered with Men’s Health magazine to help contextualize the research and data in the program. We want to reach new audiences and show how information sharing can have the greatest impact when it is done across different lines of difference.

The tool will be accessible through the Men’s Health website.

Queer people and trans people are not new. However, people are becoming more comfortable with living authentically. According to a recent Gallup poll, “One in six [U.S.] adults in Generation Z identifies as LGBT.” At the same time, a GLAAD report found 45% of non-LGBTQ+ people in the U.S. say they’re confused by the different number of terms to describe individuals who comprise the LGBTQ+ community. Thanks to the hard work of trans and queer people at the forefront of liberation movements, things have improved but are still fragile. News media can be of assistance. This tool can be used by journalists to make sure they use appropriate language. Journalists can interact with community members during their work. VideoOut recommends that a writer writing a story about trans rights interview trans people, especially those who are involved in the movement.

The LGBTQ+ Language and Media Literacy program is more than just a glossary. However, at its most basic, it can work that way. It helps you understand the LGBTQ+ community and will hopefully transform the way journalists and everyone else write about it.

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