Words Matter: Use the Right Ones in LGBT Conversations

As the law on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues has been evolving, so has the language to use when talking about — and to — LBGT individuals, including patients.

As a general rule, “(l)isten to your patients and how they describe their own sexual orientation, partner(s) and relationship(s), and reflect their choice of language,” advises GLMA (previously known as the Gay & Lesbian Medical Association). “If you are in doubt as to how to refer to a patient, ask what word or phrase they prefer.”

Better yet, become familiar with the appropriate terminology. GLAAD is an organization that works with media to achieve fairness and accuracy in reporting on LBGT topics. Its media reference (including terms to avoid) provides a glossary of terms/language that reflects current acceptable use. 

See also the American Medical Association’s webpage, Create an LGBT-Friendly Practice. If you have workplace concerns regarding LBGT employees, visit the Texas Workforce Commission website.

Published Feb. 17, 2016

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Last Updated On

June 23, 2016