On this forum (and elsewhere in our society), the unintentional use of offensive terms for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA) community is common. This thread gives a breakdown of commonly used offensive terms and suggests non-offensive, respectful alternatives.
Don't say: homosexual
Why? This clinical term from the early 20th century suggests that being lesbian or gay is all about sex and is somehow disordered. Furthermore, the term has been co-opted by the religious right, who use it as a weapon against gay and lesbian people.
Instead, use: lesbian (for people who identify as women) or gay (for people who identify as men)
Don't say: sexual preference
Why? This terminology implies that being non-heterosexual is a choice.
Instead, use: sexual orientation
Pronoun use: Always use the pronouns that a person requests, regardless of how you personally perceive their gender. It's important to listen to the person and respect them by calling them what they want to be called.
Some people identify outside the gender binary (female/male), and may use pronouns other than she or he (for example, they/them/theirs, ze/zis, ou/ous). Respect non-binary people by using their preferred pronouns.
Name use: Again, always call people by what they want to be called. Misnaming a transgender person is considered very offensive.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, and asexual discussion
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