A new campaign that aims to raise awareness among straight teenagers about the consequences of homophobic language in American schools has been launched.
The new ads are being distributed to 33,000 media stations across the US and will air and run in advertising time and space donated by the media.
The campaign also aims to reach adults, including school personnel and parents.
The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and The Advertising Council are behind the national multimedia public service advertising (PSA) campaign.
Created pro bono by ad agency ArnoldNYC, it includes television, radio, print, outdoor and Web advertising.
The TV ads feature scenarios in which the term “that’s so gay” is used casually in an effort to help teens recognise that anti-LGBT language is harmful.
The ads conclude with Wanda Sykes in one TV spot, and Hilary Duff in another, urging teens to “knock it off.”
The campaign hopes to motivate teens to become allies in the efforts to raise awareness, stop using anti-LGBT language, and safely intervene when they are present and anti-LGBT harassment and behaviour occurs.
The PSAs direct audiences to visit a new website, www.ThinkB4YouSpeak.com.
“We are proud to join with GLSEN on this very important campaign, the first to address the common use of anti-LGBT language and its harmful effects,” said Peggy Conlon, President & CEO of the Ad Council.
“When we tested the new ads with teens, they found the approach to be realistic and identifiable. I believe this campaign will open their eyes to the dangers of using this language and, ultimately, create a safer environment for LGBT students.”
The campaign launch coincides with the release of GLSEN’s 2007 National School Climate Survey, which found that nearly nine in ten lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teens report having been verbally harassed in the past school year, and almost half have been physically harassed because of their sexual orientation.
Homophobic remarks such as “that’s so gay” are the most commonly heard type of biased remarks in US schools.
Research shows that these slurs are often unintentional and are a part of teens’ vernacular.
Most do not recognise the consequences, but the casual use of this language often carries over into more overt harassment.