The main reason: WORDS HURT.
Words hurt much more than physical abuse, because they stay with us much longer.
Jenn Grace likens the phrase ‘That’s So Gay’ to ‘That’s Retarded,’ where both essentially seek to describe something that is lame/stupid/sad/etc. ‘That’s Retarded’ is a fairly uncommon phrase in teenage vernacular these days, because we’ve all realised the negative and detrimental effects that they have over special needs people.
But if this is the case, why are we still saying ‘That’s So Gay,’ to things or activities that are not actually homosexual in nature?
Steven Petrow believes it’s because, ‘the phrase ha[s] become a part of [t]his generation’s daily parlance, used and accepted in schools, Facebook and just about everywhere else.’
But is it really a big deal?
“According to a recent Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) survey, “anti-LGBT bullying and harassment remain commonplace in America’s schools” and that remarks like “that’s so gay” foster a homophobic environment and worse. The GLSEN findings showed that 75 percent of high school students reported hearing remarks such as “faggot” or “dyke” frequently, with nine out of 10 often hearing “that’s so gay” or “you’re so gay” (meaning stupid or worthless).
The GLSEN survey also found that more than a third of all LGBT students experienced physical harassment at school based on their sexual orientation and nearly a fifth had been physically assaulted at school for the same reason. LGBT high school students who experience physical harassment are twice as likely not to pursue college, and their average grade-point averages were half a grade lower than gay and lesbian students not facing the same level of hostility, no doubt because the teens who felt themselves to be at risk were five times more likely to skip school due to “safety concerns.”
Most of the time, many of us say the phrase casually, without meaning any kind of harm to those of homosexual orientation – we don’t think, we just say. And most of the time, we’re just describing some lame activity – THIS IS WHERE IT NEEDS TO STOP!
We live in the year 2013, where gay marriage is one of the most important issues facing our country. With just over a dozen countries accepting gay marriage in their borders, it is evident that we, as a culture, acknowledge the idea that there is nothing wrong with being gay. You wouldn’t say ‘That’s So Asian’ or ‘That’s So Black’ because that would be racist – so why are we still saying ‘That’s So Gay’ when it degrades those of homosexual orientation? There is nothing wrong with being gay, and as such, we should stop labeling crappy events as gay!
To quote Steven Petrow again, “Even if you think it’s funny or a hip turn of phrase, don’t forget that “That’s so gay” is hurtful. Just because it doesn’t have the same bite as “fag” or “dyke” doesn’t mean it’s not harmful or hateful. It is. We need to stop using the word “gay” to mean dumb, stupid and worthless and to think before we speak (or post on Facebook). As Shannon Gilreath, a law professor at Wake Forest, explained to me last year, “Physical violence begins with bullying, name-calling and homophobic remarks. When nothing happens to someone [for making slurs], it escalates to violence.” So, as teens say today: Don’t go there.”