2021-11-27

Google literally erases bisexuals and pansexuals in woeful LGBT+ glossary


Google at Tokyo Pride, 2018. (NurPhoto via Getty/ Alessandro Di Ciommo)

In a new LGBT+ glossary, aiming to educate the public and media on LGBT+ language and community, Google has literally erased bisexuality.

Last week, the Google News Initiative announced the project in partnership with VideoOut, titled the “LGBTQ+ language and media literacy program”.

The tool, essentially a glossary of 100 words that uses Google Trends to track the popularity of LGBT+ terms, was created with queer PhD linguists.

According to the Google release: “It’s a way to understand the LGBTQ+ community, and hopefully, it will transform the way journalists – and all of us – write and talk about LGBTQ+ people.”

But, despite being in the acronym used throughout the project, the word “bisexual” was left out of the glossary, as were “pansexual” and “Two Spirit“.

The glossary did, however, make space for the terms “sodomy”, “f*g hag” and “no fats, no femmes, no Asians”. No, really.

Video producer Travis Mannon pointed out: “I’d say the omission of ‘bi erasure’ in your comprehensive LGBTQ+ glossary is glaring, but Google News Initiative actually illustrated the point quite articulately by leaving out ‘bisexual’ entirely.”

While Google does not appear to have publicly addressed the omission, VideoOut responded to complaints on Instagram.

It said: “Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Truthfully we left many words off, some intentionally because the project was devised to consist of only 100 terms at launch, and some unintentionally like ‘bisexual’. We’re actively working with our team and partners to correct this.

“We hate that you took the time to visit the glossary and felt left out. That is the opposite emotion we want the glossary to elicit. It takes a village and we appreciate all the responses, positive and negative, that lead to this resource becoming better and better!”

Dominique Canning, one of four queer linguists involved in the project, also addressed the mistake.

They tweeted: “We (the linguists) didn’t have a ton to do with the original word list, though not including bi+ people is definitely huge oversight.

“My understanding is that this isn’t meant to be the final final version of the glossary and more will be added.

“As we discussed it with VideoOut, this isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list.

“Even with the time constraints we had, though, it’s definitely still on us for not pushing harder to include some terms from the beginning.”

At the time of writing, a week after its release, the glossary has not been updated.

PinkNews has contacted Google for comment.



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