'THEY' Wins the Day!

Change occurs in societal norms when we first learn to accept and speak a vocabulary that is acceptable and recognized by journalists and media outlets.  In its latest edition, the Associated Press Stylebook, a widely used reference for journalists, has now embraced the use of 'they' as a singular pronoun when referencing individuals that identify with the LGBTQ community. 

“It's an important step forward for gender equality and feminist empowerment. Because of this change, transgender and gender-nonconforming people will gain greater respect and dignity in the media,” says genderqueer advocate Jacob Tobia

Paula Froke, lead editor for the AP Stylebook, said clarity is key when using 'they' as a genderless singular pronoun. “We specify that you need to make clear in the context that the ‘they’ in question is just one person,” Froke said. “We don’t, among our own staff, want to open a floodgate. But we recognize a need for it, so we want to open it a bit.  Froke continues,  “The whole issue is difficult. We worked very hard to come up with a solution that makes sense. "Clarity is the top priority. Our concern was the readers out there. Many don’t understand that 'they' can be used for a singular person.”

By recognizing the need to adopt universally accepted words to reference individuals that identify as members of the LGBTQ community, the AP Stylebook editorial staff has taken a small but important step in identifying the use of 'they' as a singular pronoun.  Kudos to the AP Stylebook editorial staff in helping to lead the way with this important move.

 

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— Trish Gunby