I just read a blog entry on using the terms "homosexual" vs. "gay men and lesbians." The results indicated that Americans are more supportive of the rights of "gay men and lesbians" than of "homosexuals." Curious, but not terribly surprising.
And at the end of the article, the author rallies for the extermination of the term "homosexual":
"Any time you hear or read someone using the word homosexual, correct them on the spot. If it's a reporter or a politician or a TV personality, send them an email or a letter. Treat it like it's a slur. Because it is."
I personally don't think "homosexual" is a slur. You might see similar variance in response in taking polls using the terms "female" vs. "women." Technical words, like "homosexual" and "female" allow people to remove themselves more from the situation. Frankly, I think the term "homosexual" is specific and scientific, and there should be a time and place for technical terminology.
I don't think we should start treating words like "parents" as slurs in favor "moms and dads" just because the latter will elicit a more positive emotional response. I admit that gender and sexuality issues are more charged, and everyone should be careful with their rhetoric, but it's still not a slur; slurs are disparaging and "homosexual" is just emotionally removed.
Despite all this, where is the place for transsexuals or people outside the gender binary in our current rhetoric? I feel like neither of the aforementioned terms is all-inclusive. Oof. Gender and sexuality are complicated.