Is it past time to remove the word "homosexual" from the list of acceptable terms the media uses to describe gays and lesbians? Fox News stands by the word, making frequent use of it on air and online, even as other news outlets stopped years ago.
In a recent article, New York Times writer Jeremy Peters said of the word, "To most ears it probably sounds inoffensive. A little outdated and clinical, perhaps, but innocuous enough." But the Times piece went on to note that, in the eyes of some, the word is "loaded" in nature, and many gays and lesbians perceive its usage as "pejorative."
As Equality Matters reported this week, use of the term "homosexual" to refer to gay and lesbian people long ago fell out of favor with most mainstream news outlets, as "homosexual" is commonly used by opponents of LGBT equality — and rarely by advocates.
Fox News, however, is slow to change. The network, which apologized after it came under fire in February for its open mockery of the term "intersex," continues to use "homosexual" when reporting on gay and lesbian people. As pointed out by Equality Matters, conservative pundit Todd Starnes recently wrote on FoxNews.com that "Christians are trading places with homosexuals" in a story about an Air Force veteran who claimed he was "relieved of his duties because he disagreed with his openly gay commander over gay marriage."
Fox reporter Megyn Kelly and frequent guest Sarah Palin also cleave to the word "homosexual," as does Bill O'Reilly who recently attacked the Girl Scouts for employing a spokesman who participated "in a punk rock band with homosexual overtones."
According to the Times story, GLAAD includes the word in its list of offensive terms and, as early as 2006, convinced the Associated Press to restrict its use. For its part, the Times stopped using it back in 1987.