You are here

"Homophobia" in the AP Stylebook

The Associated Press Stylebook has added the term "homophobia" and several other terms including "ethnic cleansing" and "islamophobia" to clarify that the terms should not be used under most circumstances.

AP Deputy Standards Editor, Dave Minthorn, told Politico

"When you break down ‘ethnic cleansing,’ it’s a cover for terrible violent activities. It’s a term we certainly don’t want to propagate. Homophobia especially—it’s just off the mark. It’s ascribing a mental disability to someone, and suggests a knowledge that we don’t have. It seems inaccurate. Instead, we would use something more neutral: anti-gay, or some such, if we had reason to believe that was the case."

The new AP definition:

-phobia: "an irrational, uncontrollable fear, often a form of mental illness" should not be used "in political or social contexts," including "homophobia" and "Islamophobia." It also calls "ethnic cleansing" a "euphemism," and says the AP "does not use 'ethnic cleansing' on its own. It must be enclosed in quotes, attributed and explained."

NLGJA President, Michael Triplett, released a statement to Poynter,

"The general sense is that the AP is probably correct in terms of the literalism of the word “homophobia” and that it really is not the best way to describe anti-gay actions or motives. On the other hand, it leaves writers without a term — like racism or sexism — that describes anti-gay sentiment.

At this point, I am not sure whether NLGJA will change its stylebook or not given the AP’s recent pronouncement..." read the full article here.

Currently, the NLGJA Stylebook Supplement on LGBT Terminology defines homophobia:

"Fear, hatred or dislike of homosexuality, gay men and lesbians. Restrict to germane usage, such as in quotations or opinions. Use “LGBT right opponents” or a similar phrase instead of “homophobes” when describing people who disagree with LGBT rights activism."