November 9th: International Gay Red Shirt Day

Do you use the word “gay” when you mean, “stupid” “boring” “ugly”? Why? Careless adoption of  this derogatory slang term has become a widely accepted common practice across the world and it’s time we pull it apart and take it for what it is. Mean.It’s telling an entire group of people that they, themselves are “stupid” “boring and “ugly“,  without a second thought. It’s not just a problem in our schools; it’s in the everyday language of many adults, too. Even John Key, the Prime Minister of NZ was recently quoted in a radio interview, telling the host, “You’re munted mate. You’ve got that gay red top on“. He defended his comments by saying he picked up the term from his children and had no intention of seeming homophobic.

This is a perfect example of how even intelligent people can carelessly cut down an entire group of people- and as a parent, this plants a seed in our children that makes them unconsciously equate “gay” with negativity. What happens when later, a child who has been using the word, “gay” for years (or heard it at home) to mean ugly, stupid, boring, etc and then s/he meets someone who identifies as gay, or ends up identifying as homosexual themselves? You can start to see how this simple, one-syllable word can have great and lasting effects in the minds, hearts, lives and even physical safety of the children in it.

Over half of US students report hearing homophobic remarks at school. 9 out of 10 LGBT students report being harassed at school in the last year. Over one-third of LGBT students have been physically assaulted at school because of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. Whether you identify as gay or not, I’m sure you can understand how fearing (any type of) abuse because of the way you were born should be put to an immediate stop, not carelessly adopted. Read more on damaging language and how it leads to bullying and harassment here.

Would it be fair to substitute, “Cheerleader” for “stupid”?

No. Because we haven’t as a society agreed that stereotyping and name-calling cheerleaders is acceptable- nor should we. Substituting “gay” for something negative is just as bad- if not worse, because one can choose to be a cheerleader. Most people that identify as gay do not feel that it was a choice and there is much scientific evidence to back it up. It makes using “gay” as a derogatory term just as cruel and ignorant as if it we substituted gay for white, black, Asian or female. Or, you know, “sixteen year old boy with a cheezy mustache”.

Let Wanda explain:

The point of Gay Red Shirt Day is simple:

“We have no agenda other than wanting to help destigmatise the word ‘gay’. As parents of children who may or may not be LGBTQ we are standing up for their future.”

Parents have a responsibility to pay attention to the words and world around our kids. Let’s watch our language at home and come up with more creative, specific alternatives. 

We’re smart folks. We can do it.Wordless Wednesday: Wearing My Gay Red Shirt

Here’s my shirt- show me yours by posting pics to my Facebook wall!

Find & follow Gay Red Shirt Day in posts around the net:

Update: This very post is quoted in the news in New Zealand!
PS: When in doubt, refer to this handy infographic 🙂


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