According to a recent report, the use of the word “family” caused many Google employees to freak out, arguing that the term was homophobic.
The Daily Caller reports that many Google employees were offended by the term “family” after it was used to describe a household with children when discussing a Google product aimed at kids. The backlash against the term was so severe that a vice president at the company was forced to comment on the issue and ask employees how the company could be more inclusive.
The Daily Caller writes that one employee became particularly upset after a presenter showed a “Project Unicorn” feature that regularly used “family” to mean “a household with children.” The employee ultimately stormed out of the presentation and posted a rant in an internal Google thread which was well received by other Google employees. The employee wrote:
This is a diminishing and disrespectful way to speak. If you mean “children”, say “children”; we have a perfectly good word for it. “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”. And while kids may often be less aware of it, there are kids without families too, you know.
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 we must doggedly insist that family does not imply children.
Even the sense, “suitable for the whole family”, which you might think is unobjectionable, is totally wrong too. It only works if we have advance shared conception of what “the whole family” is, and that is almost always used to mean a household with two adults, of opposite sex, in a romantic/sexual relationship, with two or more of their own children. If you mean that as a synonym for “suitable for all people” stop and notice the extraordinary unlikelihood of such a thought! So “suitable for the whole family” doesn’t mean “all people”, it means “all people in families”, which either means that all those other people aren’t in families, or something even worse. Use the word “family” to mean a loving assemblage of people who may or may not live together and may or may not include people of any particular age. STOP using it to mean “children”. It’s offensive, inappropriate, homophobic, and wrong.
Approximately 100 other Google employees upvoted the post, one replied “thanks for writing this. So much yes.” Another employee wrote: “Using the word ‘family’ in this sense bothers me too,” adding that she felt excluded by the term because she was neither married nor a parent. “It smacks of the ‘family values’ agenda by the right wing, which is absolutely homophobic by its very definition,” she wrote.
The same employee added to her previous statement: “[I]t’s important that we fix our charged language when we become aware of how exclusionary it actually is. As a straight person in a relationship, I find the term ‘family’ offensive because it excludes me and my boyfriend, having no children of our own.”
Another employee described their own sexual relations and living arrangements writing: “My family consists of me and several other trans feminine folks, some of whom I’m dating. We’re all supportive of each other and eventually aspire to live together. Just because we aren’t a heterosexual couple with 2.5 kids, a white picket fence, and a dog doesn’t mean we’re not a family.”
Another employee added: “Using ‘family’ to mean ‘people with kids’ is also annoying to me as a straight-cis-woman who doesn’t have or want kids. My husband, my parents, and my pets are my family.”
Google Vice President Pavni Diwanji was forced to intervene, commenting that the use of the term “family” had “sparked concerns.” Diwanji wrote: “Hi everyone, I realize what we said at tgif might have caused concerns in the way we talked about families. 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.”
She further added: “Please help us get to a better state. Teach us how to talk about it in inclusive way, if you feel like we are not doing it well. As a team we have very inclusive culture, and want to do right in this area. I am adding my team here so we can have open conversation.”
Breitbart News recently published yet another leak from within Google, which reveals that YouTube has manually intervened to blacklist pro-life videos in its search results on numerous occasions. The internal leak also revealed that Google often engages in “manual actions” in order to correct controversial search results in their search product, as well as their Google Home and Google Assistant device search results. This latest report combined with the revelation of Google’s anti-conservative blacklisting gives us an insight into the company culture at Google.