To the editor:
I enjoyed reading reporter Marilyn Odendahl’s recent article about the lawsuits challenging the ban on marriage equality in Indiana. I am very glad to see your newspaper give attention to the suits, because marriage equality is both of national and local importance.
However, I write to encourage you to discard the use of the term “homosexual.” Though the term is rather anodyne to the average person, the history of the term is troubling and offensive to many people familiar with its history. The American Psychological Association popularized the term when it defined “homosexuality” as a mental disorder. Understandably, many people find offensive the label that was historically used as a diagnosis of mental illness.
More recently, a New York Times article noted that the term is often used as a descriptor to conflate sexual orientation with deviance, effectively cultivating unfounded fear with phrases like “homosexual agenda,” and “homosexual lifestyle.”
Though no human can free herself of bias, it is the legal community’s responsibility to use language that is fair, especially as our position affords us significant power to use language to change lives. And though some will perceive my language as overly sensitive, I respectfully remind those critics that language evolves: it is no longer appropriate to use terms like “Negro,” either.
I urge Indiana Lawyer to use phrases like “LGBTQ,” and “gay and lesbian,” instead of the often hurtful and now dated term “homosexual.”
Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law
Juris Doctor Anticipated 2015