Traditional use of the word ‘family’ triggered a meltdown among Google leaders, employees

By Peter Hasson

A Google executive sparked a fierce backlash from employees by using the word “family” in a weekly, company-wide presentation, according to internal documents obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

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Google employees were upset that the word “family” was used in a way that links families with children.

Many Google employees became angry that the term was used while discussing a product aimed at children, because it implied that families have children, the documents show. The backlash grew large enough that a Google vice president addressed the controversy and solicited feedback on how the company could become more inclusive.

TheDCNF received the documents from a source who insisted upon anonymity in order to share them.

One employee stormed out of the March 2017 presentation after a presenter “continued to show (awesome) Unicorn product features which continually use the word ‘family’ as a synonym for ‘household with children,’” he explained in an internal thread. That employee posted an extended rant, which was well-received by his colleagues, on why linking families to children is “offensive, inappropriate, homophobic, and wrong.”

He 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.

Roughly 100 other Google employees upvoted the post, signaling their agreement. Other Google employees also echoed their displeasure with the term. “Thanks for writing this. So much yes,” one wrote.

“Using the word ‘family’ in this sense bothers me too,” wrote another employee, who 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, adding: “[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.”

“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 in agreement.

Another employee wrote that “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 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. 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,” Dwiwanji wrote.

“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,” Dwiwanji concluded.

Google did not return a request for comment on the controversy, which is yet another example of left-wing Google employees bringing their politics to work with them.

TheDCNF previously reported that Google employees had internal debates about whether to suppress right-of-center media outlets, including The Daily Caller and Breitbart, in the company’s search function. That conversation, too, included a Google vice president: David Besbris.

Besbris and other participants in that conversation advocated providing contextual information about media sources in search results, and the company later did so with a short-lived fact check feature at the end of 2017.

Not only did the fact-check feature target conservative outlets almost exclusively, it was also blatantly wrong. Google’s fact check repeatedly attributed false claims to those outlets, even though they demonstrably never made those claims.

Google pulled the faulty fact-check program in January 2018, crediting TheDCNF’s investigation for the decision.

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7 thoughts on “Traditional use of the word ‘family’ triggered a meltdown among Google leaders, employees

  1. The family ‘definition’ controversy has been going on for decades so what is the purpose of bringing up a March 2017 about it today?

    Such extreme viewpoints on all sides. How about working towards peace and respect to mend our community?
    I too am REALLY fed up with PC but, this article is just feeding division. How about turning your skills toward something positive? I don’t know about you but I want to live in a better America.

  2. Definition of “family” per Merriam-Webster dictionary:

    a : the basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two parents rearing their children
    also : any of various social units differing from but regarded as equivalent to the traditional family // a single-parent family
    b : spouse and children want to spend more time with my family

    ****************************************
    The word does seem to involve unmurdered offspring no matter how Google wants to pervert it.

    • Two things I know for sure – if men got pregnant abortion would be a sacrament. And second – no woman should be forced to carry to term a pregnancy she does not want.

      I bet any man having an affair who impregnates a women would be abortion’s greatest champion. You have your way of looking at it and it is utter stupidity not to allow for others to have a different opinion.

      Because I believe no woman should be forced to carry a blob to term, I choose to view it more open mindedly. – not just from a simple-minded fight/wrong – murder/not murder perspective.

      How stupid of you to turn this piece into the abortion. If you can’t keep up with the conversation maybe you shouldn’t engage.

      If simple mindedness is all you can handle so be it – don’t force it on women.

          • That “blob” to which you refer is a living, breathing human being. Have you ever seen an ultrasound of a baby in the womb in the very early stages of pregnancy? I believe that girls who go to abortion clinics are not allowed to see the ultrasound of their baby because it might change their mind about having an abortion.
            I am so thankful for our children, our lives are enriched by them.
            I feel very sorry for you.

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