Published: January 17, 2019  Updated: April 1, 2020 at 7:30 am EST

During a company-wide presentation at Google the word “Family” triggered backlash from employees. The word was used while a company executive was discussing a product aimed at children.

Google employees expressed outrage because the term implied that families have children. The controversy became such a large ordeal that the Vice President of Google addressed the issue and gave feedback on how the company could become more inclusive.

One employee became so distraught during the 2017 presentation that they stormed out of the conference. According to an internal thread the presentor “continued to show (awesome) Unicorn product features which continually use the word ‘family’ as a synonym for ‘household with children. ‘”

The internal rant was well received by other Google employees, which further sparked backlash. In addition, the complainant stated that the usage of the word ‘family’ is “offensive, inappropriate, homophobic, and wrong.”

The Google 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.

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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.”

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