The Associated Press Stylebook is now allowing the use of "they" as a singular pronoun "in limited cases." The announcement came Thursday during the American Copy Editors Society conference.
The new rule will appear in the 2017 edition of the AP Stylebook, which will be available May 31. Poynter interviewed Tiffany Stevens, a reporter at The Roanake Times who identifies as non-binary, about the change. "The fact that it's being accepted by The Associated Press, that's super exciting," said Stevens. "Non-binary people as an identity aren't recognized in general in America."
The entry in the stylebook now reads:
"They, them, their In most cases, a plural pronoun should agree in number with the antecedent: The children love the books their uncle gave them.They/them/their is acceptable in limited cases as a singular and-or gender-neutral pronoun, when alternative wording is overly awkward or clumsy. However, rewording usually is possible and always is preferable. Clarity is a top priority; gender-neutral use of a singular they is unfamiliar to many readers. We do not use other gender-neutral pronouns such as xe or ze."
The entry also includes the following:
"In stories about people who identify as neither male nor female or ask not to be referred to as he/she/him/her: Use the person’s name in place of a pronoun, or otherwise reword the sentence, whenever possible. If they/them/their use is essential, explain in the text that the person prefers a gender-neutral pronoun. Be sure that the phrasing does not imply more than one person."