PC Culture

Google Employees Fret That ‘Family Friendly’ Is a ‘Homophobic’ Term

Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. (Stephen Lam / Reuters)
False charges of homophobia only diminish the real and serious struggles of those who have had to be subjected to it.

A Google vice president had to address employees’ “concerns” after many of them supported the idea that the phrase “family friendly” was “offensive” and “homophobic.”

According to an article in The Daily Caller, the trouble started when a Google executive used the phrase “family friendly” when discussing a product for children during a company-wide presentation. One employee reportedly became so upset that he stormed out, later explaining in an internal thread that using the word “family” to mean “household with children” was “offensive, inappropriate, homophobic, and wrong.”

The thread added that using the phrase “family friendly” was “a diminishing and disrespectful way to speak.”

“If you mean ‘children,’ say ‘children;’ we have a perfectly good word for it,” the thread began. “‘Family friendly’ used as a synonym for ‘kid friendly’ means, to me, ‘you and yours don’t count as a family unless you have children.’

“The use of ‘family’ as a synonym for ‘with children’ has a long-standing association with deeply homophobic organizations. This does not mean we should not use the word ‘family’ to refer to families, but it mean[s] we must doggedly insist that family does not imply children.”

The thread also clarified that the phrase is offensive “even in the sense, ‘suitable for the whole family,’” because it “is almost always used to mean a household with two adults, of opposite sex, in a romantic/sexual relationship, with two or more children.”

The thread was reportedly upvoted by approximately 100 of the poster’s colleagues — and, presumably, that it received that level of popularity is what forced the vice president to have to speak about it.

Google vice president Pavni Diwanji joined the conversation and acknowledged that use of the term “family” had sparked “concerns.”

“Hi everyone, I realize what we said at tgif might have caused concerns in the way we talked about families,” Diwanji stated, according to The Daily Caller. “There are families without kids too, and also we needed to be more conscientious about the fact that there is a diverse makeup of parents and families.”

“Teach us how to talk about it in inclusive way, if you feel like we are not doing it well,” she continued. “As a team we have very inclusive culture, and want to do right in this area.”

The incident occurred in March 2017 but didn’t make news until The Daily Caller posted about it last week.

Now, personally, my “family” consists of just my dad, brother, sister, and our pets. There are no children in our family — I don’t have any, and neither do my brother or sister. Still, I have to say that I’m just not offended by the phrase “family friendly” being used to mean “appropriate for children.” Why? Because it’s not a big f****** deal! Because, children or not, I do have a life, and I have more important things to worry about than something so absolutely innocuous. Honestly, the fact that somebody actually left a meeting over this is absolutely insane to me.

What’s more, there’s absolutely nothing in the phrase “family friendly” that states it refers to heterosexual couples’ families only. If the presenter had said “heterosexual family friendly,” then I could see where the charge of homophobia might come up, but as is, I really just don’t get it. “Family friendly” absolutely does also mean “appropriate for gay and lesbian parents and their children,” everyone knows that, and people should really try to avoid charges of homophobia when there are none. Homophobia, after all, is a very real and very serious thing — and making charges of it where it makes no sense to do so only diminishes the very real and very serious struggles of those who have had to be subjected to it.

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