Gay rights charity Stonewall has launched a new campaign to tackle homophobic language in schools, with the slogan “Gay. Let’s get over it”.
The campaign comes exactly ten years since the repeal of Section 28 and is in response to research showing that 99% of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people hear phrases such as “that’s so gay” or “you’re so gay”. 84% are distressed when they hear homophobic language. Polling by Mumsnet also shows that 68% of parents don’t know if their child’s school has policies in place to tackle the problem.
Supported by pop star Will Young and Mumsnet, Stonewall’s campaign uses new posters and guidance to address the misuse of the word gay. Posters, sent to schools across Britain, state clearly: “Gay. Let’s get over it”. The posters are accompanied by new guidance for both pupils and teachers to enable them to challenge the derogatory use of the word gay.
Will Young said: “The word ‘gay’ is currently used as one of the worst insults by young people of all ages. It’s clear from the shocking levels of self-harm and suicide among gay young people that we’re failing an entire generation. It’s time to take a stand and put a stop to this deeply damaging use of homophobic language.”
Justine Roberts, founder of campaign partners Mumsnet, said: “We should all be challenging our children’s use of homophobic language and simply shouldn’t tolerate phrases like ‘that’s so gay’ which are in everyday use in school playgrounds. Parents, working with schools, really can stamp out this type of language which is demeaning, hurtful and offensive to so many.”
Stonewall’s deputy chief executive Ruth Hunt added: “We know that many people who casually use the term ‘that’s so gay’ don’t intentionally mean to be offensive. But the reality is that their words cause hurt and distress. That’s why we’re launching this flagship campaign so teachers and parents have the resources to tackle the problem head on. We want every young person, teacher and parent in Britain to challenge this language and change the culture of our schools.”
Stonewall is distributing copies of the new posters and guidance to 2,500 secondary schools – half of all secondary schools in Britain. Mumsnet and Stonewall are also asking individuals to get involved by writing to or tweeting their local schools as well as challenging their own children’s use of homophobic language.
Labour’s Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, Gloria De Piero, and beyondpositive editor Tom Hayes, have both today written about the tenth-year anniversary of the repeal of Section 28 in England and Wales, in articles for PinkNews.