March 28, 2017 at 11:54 am PDT | by Mariah Cooper
AP Stylebook adds gender-neutral pronoun ‘They’
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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Associated Press has updated its stylebook, a style guide for journalists, to include the gender-neutral pronoun, “They.”

Paula Froke, lead editor for the AP Stylebook, made the announcement at the annual American Copy Editors Society conference on Friday, NBC News reports.

“We offer new advice for two reasons: recognition that the spoken language uses ‘they’ as singular, and we also recognize the need for a pronoun for people who don’t identify as a he or a she,” Froke said at the conference.

The AP Stylebook entry reads: “In most cases, a plural pronoun should agree in number with the antecedent: The children love the books their uncle gave them. They/them/their is acceptable in limited cases as a singular and-or gender-neutral pronoun, when alternative wording is overly awkward or clumsy. However, rewording usually is possible and always is preferable. Clarity is a top priority; gender-neutral use of a singular they is unfamiliar to many readers. We do not use other gender-neutral pronouns such as xe or ze.”

The stylebook also added other LGBT terms including “LGBTQ” but adds that the “queer” part of the abbreviation could be considered a slur in some cases.

The entry for gender has been modified to read that gender is “not synonymous with sex” and there is now an entry for homophobia.

The 2017 AP Stylebook rules are now in effect. The print edition of the book will be released on May 31.

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