“Gay” Is Okay?

The following is a bit of a story I found on the BBC News site. It’s something that has actually been pissing me off for a while, and after this story I’ll tell you in simple terms why it pisses me off.

Every generation of schoolchildren has them, the playground put-downs that can leave a pupil’s reputation in tatters among their peers. For the current generation, “gay”, “bitch” and “slag” are the most frequently used terms of abuse, according to a survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL). They are used by children of all ages, from nursery school upwards. But the worst offenders are secondary school pupils, says the teaching union. The most popular by far is “gay”. Of the teachers interviewed, 83% said they heard it being used regularly and much more than its nearest rivals, bitch (59%) and slag (45%). So how did it achieve this dubious honour?

“Every generation grows up with a whole lexicon of homosexual insults, in my day it was ‘poofter’ or ‘bender’,” says slang lexicographer Tony Thorne. “They were used much more because they were considered more offensive than ‘gay’, which is more neutral.

“It’s only in the last four years that I’ve documented it being used so much by young people. It’s what we call a ‘vogue’ word, which is a fashionable word.” One reason for this increase in use could be because “gay” has partly lost its sexual connotations among young people, he says. While still pejorative, for the majority of youngsters it has replaced words such as “lame”.

“I have interviewed scores of school kids about this and they are always emphatic that it has nothing at all to do with hostility to homosexuals,” says Mr Thorne, compiler of the Dictionary of Contemporary Slang. “It is nearly always used in contexts where sexual orientation and sexuality are completely irrelevant.”

The ATL survey seems to say otherwise, lumping it in with clear insults such as poofter and batty boy. But Katie, a 12-year-old from Colchester, knows it in different context. A bad pair of trainers is much more likely to be called “gay” than a person, she says. “It’s used as more of a way to tease a friend rather than have a real go at someone. I wouldn’t call someone ‘gay’ because I know that’s sort of bullying them.” The use of “gay” in this particular way was first recorded at the end of the 1970s and developed among US high school students, says Mr Throne. It’s not only youngsters in the UK who have recently adopted it, the same has happened to the German equivalent, schwul, he adds.

This mutation of the word is one reason why using “gay” as in a pejorative sense often goes unchallenged. Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles caused controversy in 2006 for his casual use of the word. He said he’d used it to describe something as “rubbish” and was backed by the BBC. “The word has what we call multiple coinage and that’s the problem,” says Mr Thorne. “While teenagers are generally using it to mean ‘lame’ it can separately be used as a homophobic term of abuse.”

It’s this ambiguity that prevents some teachers from tackling pupils who use it in a negative sense, says ATL. They are afraid of “blowing trivial matters out of proportion”.

Ms Cowie has observed schools developing children as “peer supporters” to listen, mediate and support bullied children. But “boys have a “harder time” adopting such roles because the attributes are not seen as masculine. “In one school we studied they were known as queer supporters,” she notes. Recalling her time as a boys’ secondary school teacher in the 1970s, Ms Cowie recalls how “obsessed” pupils were with

homosexual innuendo. “It didn’t seem to matter what you read to the class they’d always find an gay innuendo.”

Right, here’s how I see it. If a child is using a term that’s a descriptive term for a group of people as derogatory in any manner then they obviously need some education. Lets face it, if this were skin colour or religion or pretty much anything else there’d be hell to pay, yet sexual orientation is somehow acceptable? If Katie from the story was complaining that trainers were “so negro” or “so jewish” simply because they’re a bit crap this matter would be taken a lot more seriously by a lot more people.


17 thoughts on ““Gay” Is Okay?

  1. Unfortunately that's not the way it's seen over here. Most of my mates from home are gay. Whenever I hear a kid calling something gay I always think about how they'd feel about that term being used for crap things. It's hard enough for any kids to come to terms with being gay anyway, without them having it drilled into them that gay means substandard or pathetic.Seems to me that someone needs to slap the kids coming into your country or at least educate them a bit. Calling girls whores is well out of order, especially if it's just for sex before marriage. And if the guys think it's okay for them to have sex before marriage but not for girls then all they've got left are the "whores" they've been abusing, so they'd best learn some manners (and hopefully a new way of thinking) if they want to get their rocks off.

  2. Danish kids are also calling each other gay, and the girls are called whores. The whore-thing comes from our immigrant youngsters, who have had a hard time understanding the liberal-minded Danish girls. And if they have sex before marriage, they must be whores, right? (I won't even start on those boys, who thinks it's ok that men have sex before marriage…) Anyway, I have heard the word negro used as a term of abuse among kids too, and that is just as wrong as using words as gay and whore.

  3. I agree with you. I think it is interesting to look at the difference between the words of abuse for girls and boys. Do kids in UK also use "gay" for girls? Because they don't do that here. And speaking of that, it is interesting that it seems more ok for a girl to be gay than for a guy. I never understood that.And – I'd gladly slap some manners into those kids if they were mine!

  4. Some do yeah. Guys pick on guys and call them gay. Girls pick on girls and call them gay.It's a fact that we've all got the capacity to be gay built in – all animals have. Girls tend to be more at ease with that fact than guys. I reckon it's that guys tend to see gay as effeminate, and as they're constantly pressured to be masculine it brings out a fear of going against the norm in them.Girls seem more under pressure to be attractive to guys than anything else. And we all know how most guys fantasise about lesbians. 🙄

  5. I never understand that fantasy, really. :rolleyes:I got a photo of … well… I will look for it later, and put it in a post. You'll laugh, that's a promise! 😀

  6. Just shook my head at her. What I'd like to do right now is lock her up in a room here and not let her out til she comes to her senses. :worried: 😦 :heart:, kids can do that to ya even though they are an adult. UGH!!!sighs*

  7. I actually use gay, but in it's original term, as in "happy". I used it for things like sickly-sweet romance movies and general "too happy" things. And yeah, I don't really get that fantasy that men seem to share. If they were faced with two girls who wanted the guy to join, the guy would be lost. And it's not like women fantasize over man-on-man stuff, is it? I mean, I'm sure a few do, but I certainly don't and I've never met anyone who does. The way boys insult girls over there, Kitty, is ridiculously hypocritical. :irked:

  8. The first time I heard it used as a term not meaning happy or to say that someone is gay was by my daughter "That's gay" she says, I looked at her and asked what do you mean? She said that is stupid that it's done that way.

  9. It's the same here, as in Denmark. Guys are called gay, and girls are called whores (not necessarily because they've had sex before marriage…). It's sad, really.

  10. You're right that racial and religious slurrs would not be tolerated. Whilst I don't condone homosexual behaviour, I'm against any kind of abuse as it make people feel uncomfortable with thier choices. No person should be forced to make different choices just because I (or some other person) doesn't agree with them. Just because kids argue that it isn't a sexual reference doesn't matter. Verbal abuse should not be tolerated in schools or anywhere else. Just because you don't approve of another persons hairstyle, lifestyle or dress sense is not an excuse to verbally abuse them. It's time that schools started teaching tolerance as a compulsory subject. You don't have to agree with something to be tolerant about it. :irked:

  11. :hat: :hat::hat: YAY!!! Just talked to my daughter Mik, she came to her senses. YAY!!!:happy: Phew…………. 😀

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