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Challenging the use of homophobic language in schools: Mumsnet and Stonewall campaign

(270 Posts)
RebeccaMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 18-Nov-13 10:02:09

"That's so gay." Um, actually it probably isn't.

It's also something most of us don't want to hear, and it's absolutely something young people shouldn't have to hear in the classroom.
That's why, for Anti-Bullying Week this year, we've teamed up with Stonewall on Gay. Let?s Get Over It, a campaign to provide guidance to schools, parents and young people, and to address the misuse of the word 'gay'.

Mumsnetters talked about the need for the campaign here, and you can get involved in it here.

Do share on Twitter #GetOverIt, Facebook and Google+ - the more people know about the campaign, the more we can challenge unacceptable language and change the culture of our schools. And do feel free to discuss it here too.

Tomorrow, Will Young will be coming into MNHQ for a webchat about the campaign at 12pm - watch active for the webchat thread which will be up later and post your questions to him there.

YouAreMyFavouriteWasteOfTime Mon 18-Nov-13 14:11:59

Great idea for a campaign. I will watch this thread with interest.

Fluffytent Mon 18-Nov-13 14:15:38

Working in education, I completely agree about stamping out bullying in all its forms.

However I think the problems may be exacerbated by
- parents passing on their prejudices
- some children will simply parrot words from their peers without having any agenda
- what about kids called fat, ginger, speccy etc? No form of bullying should be acceptable.
- is it the word itself thats the problem or what's really being said? Does it change life for a child being bullied if just the word is tackled?

LumpySpacePrincessOhMyGlob Mon 18-Nov-13 14:19:59

The thing with fat, speccy and ginger is that they would generally be used towards someone who is ginger or wears glasses. Whereas gay is used to describe anyone or any situation in a negative way.

I speak as a ginger person and hope that particular prejudice is next on the list. ��

Fully support this campaign and it's about time it was tackled head on in schools.

When I was working in a school recently as a TA I did challenge a group of boys going round rather randomly flinging around the word "gay" in the playground - maybe "He's gay Miss" as an example.
I said something along the lines of that's something people can tell you about themselves not something you can just say about someone else.
Also pretty much said "some of my best friends are gay"
Don't know if I got it right, but I did try - and the children did seem to take it on board quite well if I remember rightly. I think talking about it quite informally in the playground seemed quite effective.

purpleroses Mon 18-Nov-13 14:29:03

I think it's on a par with "don't be such a girl" used as an insult really.

It's a good thing to try to stop children mis-using it, but schools need to be careful not to overreact. My daughter (10) came home telling me about how a boy in her class had been sent to the head's office lately for saying "that's so gay". It's not homophobic in the real sense of causing distress and discrimination, just a bit rude and probably said out of ignorance in the case of young children. My daughter and her schoolmates all think it's some dreadful thing to mention the word gay now, which I don't think will help anyone.

MrsSquirrel Mon 18-Nov-13 14:29:30

Yes of course, some children will simply parrot words from their peers without having any agenda. It's still the schools' job to educate the children.

When my dd was in primary, she was the victim of homophobic bullying because I am gay. I am certain that one of the boys involved had no idea what he was saying, but the school (correctly) followed its bullying policy. I hope he and the other children involved all learned something from the experience.

hermioneweasley Mon 18-Nov-13 14:31:19

Purple roses, if the saying was "don't be black" would you think it's harmless.

It ingrains gay=bad at a very early age

I am delighted to see MN supporting this campaign

MrsSquirrel Mon 18-Nov-13 14:32:51

But purpleroses, that kind of language did cause distress to my dd in primary school. I was glad that the school took it seriously. All children should be able feel safe at school.

Devora Mon 18-Nov-13 14:34:38

Accepting your point that all offensive language needs to be managed appropriately, including age-appropriately, purpleroses, but using 'gay' as an insult DOES cause distress and discrimination. I am gay with two children in primary school, and I can promise you that hearing their family reality used as a catch-all term for anything naff or inferior or despised does do them real damage.

The point is that it's not just the intent behind the word that causes harm, it is using the word in a way that perpetuates homophobia. That is why it shoud always be picked up on, so that children who use the word 'innocently' learn why it shouldn't be used in that way.

Devora Mon 18-Nov-13 14:35:19

Congratulations to MN and Stonewall for mounting this campaign. I'm thrilled.

Devora Mon 18-Nov-13 14:37:06

I would also challenge (appropriately!) children using 'girl' as an insult, but they're not actually on a par. Girls in primary school are surrounded by other girls who help to validate and affirm their identity. Whereas gay children - or children of gay parents - are often the only ones they know. That isolation, combined with casual daily reminders that they are considered inferior or laughable or disguating, causes real damage to a growing child's psyche.

SirChenjin Mon 18-Nov-13 14:37:11

It's a great idea, I fully support it. However, I'm not sure that a 'campaign' in isolation will have much success - I seem to be supporting so many campaigns at the moment that I feel slightly campaigned out - and so would like to see Stonewall working with education departments across the UK (although maybe you're already doing this?) to build appropriate use of language into the curriculum as well as highlighting the issue through a campaign.

Wigeon Mon 18-Nov-13 14:43:51

This is a good thing for Stonewall to be challenging. Are they doing anything to challenge adults' use of the word 'gay' as an insult? In the last week, I have overheard someone on the trips in describe a policy proposal (!) as 'so gay' (he clearly meant weak, pathetic etc) and on Facebook saw someone comment on someone's selfie photo with just the word 'gay' (again, it was clearly not meant as a compliment).

I am still wondering what, if anything, I should have said to my fellow train passenger...any ideas for a pithy thing you could say to a stranger in those circumstances?!

Contrarian78 Mon 18-Nov-13 14:44:49

".....to provide guidance to schools, parents and young people, and to address the misuse of the word 'gay'."

Gay, even when I was a kid, meant something totally different. Language constantly evolves (for better and worse). This isn't really cricket. Although I wouldn't personally describe something rubbish as "gay" - though I see many things which the "Gay Community" ally themselves to as being utterly rubbish (these kids might be onto something)

I think it's a bit rich to argue against the use of a word in a particular context when that word was itself (arguably) originally misappropriated.

FWIW (and I know this sort of makes me a hypocrite) I really don't like the use of the word "Faggot" to describe homosexuals. For some reason, that always seems to be really rather hateful - and I've pulled people for it before.

Wigeon Mon 18-Nov-13 14:44:52

train not trips

CatherinaJTV Mon 18-Nov-13 14:46:45
Feminine Mon 18-Nov-13 14:47:51

I'm concerned.

When kids use it now, its nothing to do with being gay.

I doubt it will go away in schools TBH.

Younger children are using it now with even less understanding of the original usage.

My eldest's son school have banned it...it is still being used!

Wigeon Mon 18-Nov-13 14:48:53

Contrarian: the point is that language HAS evolved, and 'gay' now means 'homosexual', not the old meaning of 'fun', and if people are using a term for 'homosexual' as a way of describing something negatively (eg 'that's soooo gay'), then that is clearly an insult to people who are gay. And pretty unpleasant even if you personally aren't gay, but think that gay people shouldn't be insulted. Does that help explain why this campaign exists?

purpleroses Mon 18-Nov-13 14:52:40

MrsSquirrel - but your DD was being bullied by people who were using the word gay correctly (to say that you were gay) and bullying her because of that. That is homophobic bullying, and it is good that the school took it seriously - so they should.

But using the word gay incorrectly to mean that something is a bit naff is misusing the word - possibly by children who've not even heard it used in any other context, and not intended to upset gay people at all.

Feminine Mon 18-Nov-13 14:53:42

Wigeon kids who use it are not calling someone a homosexual though. They use in a throw away style.

It is used in a totally different way.

Little ones are using it. They have no understanding.

hareinthemoon Mon 18-Nov-13 14:59:11

I support the campaign, especially for the reasons Devora states. However I am one step on from this. My son is the only openly gay student in his school and when he is called "gay" - well - the other children just say "well it's true". And given the other words that could be used (and were used by previous generations, before gay was appropriated) - I like "gay". But concentrating on the word doesn't address how or why it's said, and given that he is, indeed, gay - what then? The school have worked on this by talking about "toxic words" (including the use of "ginger", Lumpy) - used in a derogatory way. But I'm not sure how successful it was. Dealing with how words are used rather than just the words themselves is a hugely difficult problem.

MrsSquirrel Mon 18-Nov-13 15:06:36

I understand what you mean by misuse purpleroses but using the word gay in a way that means gay=bad is upsetting, whatever the speaker intends.

I would hope that in the earlier example you gave, the headteacher explained to the boy why it is wrong to use that kind of language and that the boy learned something from the experience.

intitgrand Mon 18-Nov-13 15:09:34

According to the Oxford English dictionary

adjective (gayer, gayest)
1(of a person, especially a man) homosexual.
•relating to or used by homosexuals:
eg a gay bar

2 dated light-hearted and carefree:
Nan had a gay disposition and a very pretty face

3 brightly coloured; showy:
'a gay profusion of purple and pink sweet peas'

4 informal, offensive foolish, stupid, or unimpressive:
'he thinks the obsession with celebrity is totally gay'

So there you are 4 meanings!

cornflakegirl Mon 18-Nov-13 15:11:03

Completely support this campaign. I agree that it's only one facet, and needs to be backed up with zero tolerance on bullying in general, and good teaching on same-sex relationships and all the different types of families, but words matter. I will ask our school about their stance on homophobic language.

elskovs Mon 18-Nov-13 15:12:46

I have always taught my children to be kind to others and I will continue to do so.

I don't think aged 5 and 8 they are ready for sex education though, which surely would have to be a part of your campaign - wouldn't it involve explaining what "gay" really means?

intitgrand Mon 18-Nov-13 15:13:55

I think its the daftest campaign ever!

elskovs - I don't think work with children in this area necessarily needs to include sex education in a narrow sense - just wider relationship education, firstly respecting others, and secondly explaining that some boys have boyfriends and some girls have girlfriends, or similar discussion.

That's a well thought out response initgrand.
I'd support this campaign wholeheartedly. My DD challenged a girl at school for calling something gay when she first started there.
Since then, her NN seems to be lesbian because she has short hair.
Fortunately, she is able to defend herself (not that she should need to).
IMO, it's general ignorance from home and the media.

I do think more support could be given to schools to give teachers and TA's more confidence and best practice ideas on how to respond to a variety of situations and language being used by children.

elskovs Mon 18-Nov-13 15:23:51

I don't see how you can avoid mentioning it Juggling.

Respect for others should be a given without any campaign.

And I wouldn't personally be happy with the school talking about same sex relationships to such young children. IMO that is sex ed.

MrsSquirrel Mon 18-Nov-13 15:25:32

You can explain what gay means elskovs in an age appropriate way without talking about sex. Just as you can explain what marriage means without mentioning how they are expected to be consummated.

TiggyD Mon 18-Nov-13 15:29:00

That's Stonewall, the GBL organisation. Not GBLT. They dropped the 'T' for 'trans' a few years ago. They then nominated a transphobic writer for one of their awards. Then a couple of years later they did it again. Then this year for a GBL footballers campaign, they teamed up with Paddy Power, a company that got into trouble for a transphobic telly advert.

I agree with the subject of the campaign, but I would never recommend anyone to get involved with Stonewall in any way.

DP and his brother are constantly calling each other gay. No idea why and it gives me the proper irrits. They have done it since school age. Mind you they are both homophobic, so that doesn't help.

I support this campaign.

Ludicrous.

What is your aim? To stop kids from using their own slang? I laugh in your face.

In the UK, people also use "pants" to mean "bad, rubbish." Is this offensive to undergarments, or to American trousers? If we take as a premise that American men generally wear American trousers, can we conclude that this slang use of the word "pants" is both misandrist and xenophobic?

Kids will speak however the sodding hell they want. I discourage my daughter from making stupid statements (such as, "Boys are stupid") in my hearing, but it fucks me off to think of anyone else presuming to tell her how she is allowed to speak. At some point we all have to get a grip and make a conscious decision not to get upset and offended by things that come out of the mouths of babes and innocents. Accusing children of "homophobia!" As though most primary school pupils have a firm idea of what homosexuality is.

Ludicrous.

purpleroses Mon 18-Nov-13 15:39:34

MRsSquirrel - yes I imagine the headteacher did explain why he shouldn't use the word. But the whole thing of having to go to the head's office means that something is VERY BAD, in my daughter's understanding of things. Other children were saying that it was homophobic, they'd been didn't want to play with the boy any more, and that he was going to be expelled.... would have been so much better if the playground supervisor themselves who overhead the comment could just have helped him find a better word to use, rather than sending out a message to the kids the word is some kind of taboo subject which they mustn't ever mention.

To be sent to the head for using a word that you don't understand is alarming for a 10 year old, I would guess - you're just trying to make sense of the world at that age, and quite often get things a bit wrong.

Exactly MrsSquirrel, we find it quite possible to talk about heterosexual relationships without being graphic about sexual practices.

I wonder how much we are still influenced by the legacy of section (clause) 28 which forbade the "promotion of homosexuality" in schools.
I think it's important we do feel able to talk about the diversity of relationships in society and family life with our children, and from the earliest ages (which I work with) though I'll say I don't always feel I have the confidence to do so.

It seems a bit like though passionate about breastfeeding I don't always have the confidence to model BFing to the children, but often find myself feeding a doll with a bottle when joining in with children's play. Am always delighted to see a child put a doll up their jumper for it's feed though - usually just like Mummy.

Teachers/ early years educators need encouragement/ ideas/ tools to explore many slightly more challenging areas - it can be easy to take the safe path.

MrsSquirrel Mon 18-Nov-13 15:49:37

Well purpleroses I do think that it is very bad, so that is where you and I disagree.

elskovs Mon 18-Nov-13 16:05:28

Even without mentioning the mechanics of intercourse, Id rather my children naturally became aware of same sex relationships as they grow up rather than learn about them at school.

Seems a bit unnecessary to spell out "some boys like kissing other boys and that's ok too" to a five year old.

DziezkoDisco Mon 18-Nov-13 16:05:42

Themaltesefalcon - stopping kids using their own inappropriate, offensive slang is a great thing to do. Adults use gay in an offensive manner too.

Nigger used to be slang used by adults and kids when I was young in a similarly offensive manner, thank fuck none of my kids have used that vile word. They have used gay though, hopeful this campaign will stop people thinking it is okay to use.

So you let your kids speak however the sodding hell they like. So if she comes home calling someone a fucking cunt, thats okay is it? or some one a fucking Polak, or Paki or nigger or ginge or lardarse or whatever.
I mean its just out of the mouths of babes, she didnt mean any offense.

Devora Mon 18-Nov-13 16:06:35

elskovs, your children might go to the same school as mine. They might hear that my kids have two mums, that we're gay. Sex education doesn't come into it; you can't expect the school to insulate your children from real life.

Devora Mon 18-Nov-13 16:07:58

And you know what, my 4yo and my 8yo old have the right to feel that their families are ok too, without that being treated as analogous to giving children explicit information on the mechanics of sexual intercourse.

elskovs Mon 18-Nov-13 16:12:04

They might pick it up, yes. But Id rather it wasn't part of a lesson.

Ill be taking my children out of the sex education portion of PSHE if it includes this at primary.

Im happy that my children wont purposely hurt anyones feelings.

JacqueslePeacock Mon 18-Nov-13 16:23:17

Crikey, I couldn't have imagined that anyone would oppose this. I'm stunned by some of the responses.

Can you imagine if children were using the word "black" as an insult? Would people be saying 'it's just evolution of language" or "my children can use whatever slang they want" then?

I guess this shows how much the campaign is needed.

noblegiraffe Mon 18-Nov-13 16:24:31

but it fucks me off to think of anyone else presuming to tell her how she is allowed to speak.

If she is in my class in secondary, then I absolutely have the right to tell her how she is allowed to speak - in my classroom at least. Be polite, no swearing, no racism, no taking the piss out of people and no using the word gay as an insult. Most kids pick it up fairly quickly.

SirChenjin Mon 18-Nov-13 16:28:50

Agree Jaques. Shocking views expressed on here - the longer I'm on MN the more it feels like a parallel universe sad

YouAreMyFavouriteWasteOfTime Mon 18-Nov-13 16:33:51

but it fucks me off to think of anyone else presuming to tell her how she is allowed to speak.

but it is not one person telling them what to do - it is Society deciding that discrimination on various grounds is no longer acceptable.

wetaugust Mon 18-Nov-13 16:37:33

We're going to run out of words at this rate.

intitgrand Mon 18-Nov-13 16:45:51

Can you imagine if children were using the word "black" as an insult? Would people be saying 'it's just evolution of language" or "my children can use whatever slang they want" then?
a more accurate parallel would be a campaign dictating that black should not be used in its usual sense ie describing the absence of colour eg a black car

WorksforPOTUS Mon 18-Nov-13 16:46:59

I guess what we're aiming for is to teach children not to speak to others in a way which is unkind, prejudicial and derogatory - this is something no-one could say is a bad thing at all. This is general good behaviour, common humanity, kindness etc etc.

But why this issue? It's hard to argue it's not a PC -thing.

I am a practicing Christian and I find the use of 'Jesus / Christ' as an expletive offensive - as do most practicing Christians.

Will there be a campaign about this? hmm In a society that highly values equality it seems that some are actually more equal than others.

intitgrand Mon 18-Nov-13 16:47:42

In fact it is.
Terms such as 'Black MOnday' on the stock exchange, and people describe being in a black mood are not condemned.What is the difference .

AlwaysInBed Mon 18-Nov-13 16:49:33

Can I just ask, what do these campaigns actually do? Do they just educate MNers (preaching to the choir?) or more? (Although the former is valuable, obviously, but I don't see the effectiveness of the MN campaigns, despite sometimes having those issues very close to home).

octopusinastringbag Mon 18-Nov-13 16:52:26

My son will say something is so gay and I don't much like it. However, we spoke about the reasons why I don't like it and he understands that and sees gay relationships as part and parcel of life. I've not made a big deal about him using it, he can make his own mind up but he has to know the issues behind it. Recently he has been using it less and I think he'll just stop of his own accord but I doubt he would if I'd come down heavy on him.

TiggyD Mon 18-Nov-13 17:01:05

Intitgrand said: "Terms such as 'Black MOnday' on the stock exchange, and people describe being in a black mood are not condemned.What is the difference ."

I think the main difference is the "Gay" = "Bad" thing is very new.

If any term is upsetting to a group of people, they can ask for it not to be used and nice people will stop.

Will you stop using "Gay" to mean bad?

member Mon 18-Nov-13 17:02:09

I know that as part of anti-bullying week that dd's secondary school(in partnership with the other two secondaries in our town) are doing tutor work & assemblies on the use of homophobic language this week. So unless this is a total coincidence, it would seem that the campaign will be raising awareness/educating the 11-18 year olds in our town & not just preaching to the converted Alwaysinbed

octopusinastringbag Mon 18-Nov-13 17:07:30

But with 'black monday' and 'black mood' etc then the black is bad, likewise 'black sheep' as in the black sheep of the family. It's nothing new that using a word that can describe people is bad.

Why not have a campaign to have gay meaning happy and cheerful instead of homosexual?

Language changes....

Devora Mon 18-Nov-13 17:09:15

WorksforPOTUS, do you really think that gay people are afforded more equality than Christians? Really?

I think it's highly desirable to avoid causing offence to people's faith, but honestly: have you ever lost a job because you are a Christian? Have you ever been beaten up for being a Christian? Have you ever lost a tenancy for being Christian? Have your children been taken away from you because of your Christianity? Have you been convicted of 'crimes' that don't exist for non-Christians? Have people tried to 'cure' you of being Christian? Have your family thrown you out on the streets because of your Christianity? Have you ever tried to kill yourself because you feel there is no place for you in this world as a Christian?

All of the above has been the experience of people I know and care about since I first came out 30 years ago. Thankfully, the world is changing fast and my children will have a very different experience of homophobia than mine. I am so grateful for the efforts of organisations like Stonewall and Mumsnet, that have challenged the complacent majority and made our society a kinder, more thoughtful place for gay people.

wetaugust Mon 18-Nov-13 17:12:39

No - we've all this thing wrong.

What the camapign is saying is that the description 'gay' is OK if used in the correct context i.e. the gay Community or being gay.

What they are attempting to stamp out is the derogatory use of the word gay - as in 'you're so gay'.

I think the campaign is a bit unnecessary. It's a very recent application of the word and before long it will be passe. Whereas the appropraition of 'gay' has been a very successful move. Terms such as 'gay icon', 'glad to be gay' are now ingrained in every day use - something I would not have thought possible when I was younger and homophobia was overt.

I think this campaign will shoot itself in the foot as most people will jump to the conclusion that the word 'gay' is now taboo - wrongly.

YouAreMyFavouriteWasteOfTime Mon 18-Nov-13 17:13:56

Christians and gay people get terrible treatment in many countries. and both can be treated badly here but i dont know of anyone being killed for being Christian in the uk recently.

however you don't need to be murdered to deserve equality.

Catsize Mon 18-Nov-13 17:36:49

devora, what you describe your children hearing etc. is what I fear for my 2yr old and due in Feb second child.
We are same-sex parents, and I agree with the 'that's so gay' thing demeaning a family and gay people in general.
As a Christian, I also find some anti-Christian language offensive, as worksfor said, but you are right - the two hurts are not comparable. I do not feel wounded to the core when someone insults my faith, but I do when I suffer homophobia, directly or indirectly.

WorksforPOTUS Mon 18-Nov-13 17:39:20

Devora - none of the things you ask about have been my own experience personally, but sadly it is the experience of many Christians here in the UK and around the world for the past 2000 years and to date. Personally I face marginalisation, ridicule (sometimes open, sometimes more covert), scorn, derision, social exclusion in some ways & all the time. My children are also already starting to feel the effects of being Christian.

Anyway - I'm aware that Christian persecution is not at all the subject of this discussion and apologise for causing a diversion.

Injustice, oppression and violence of any kind against any human being by others is a terrible thing which must be stopped.
But - my cynicism is directed at my perception of the motivation behind campaigns such as these.

Merguez Mon 18-Nov-13 17:49:38

I'm not sure about this.

When my dc (2 boys, 11 and 14) use the expression "that's so gay" they are not referring to anything with homosexual overtones.

They just mean "that's a bit rubbish". I think the word has evolved into a new meaning and I don't really see it as offensive in that way.

A bit how it evolved from its original meaning of 'happy' I guess. I would be interested in hearing from someone who understands linguistics.

Oh, and I have a LOT of gay friends of both sexes and my dc are well aware of that and are extremely aware of homophobia and are strongly against it. And we have discussed their use of the expression and how it could be misinterpreted and offensive to some.

Devora Mon 18-Nov-13 17:59:17

I'm sorry, WorksforPOTUS, but you did imply very strongly that gay people were somehow having an easy life compared to Christians, that they are 'more equal'.

You needed to be called on that, so that's what I did. I would never defend people taking potshots at Christians, but it is historically incorrect and hugely unhelpful to imply that gay people are somehow given a privileged ride.

You haven't been specific about what you think the motivations behind this campaign are, other than it's a PC thing. Not sure what you mean by that. What do YOU think the motivations are?

Devora Mon 18-Nov-13 18:01:43

Merguez, do you think that the 'new meaning' of gay has got nothing to do with the more established meaning? Just coincidence?

And, however innocently it's used, don't you think that using it has an impact on perceptions of gayness? Like, I don't think that people who call grown women 'girls' are necessarily sexists, but I do think this habit has an impact on how women are viewed in society.

noblegiraffe Mon 18-Nov-13 18:04:56

Comparing 'Black Monday' to 'That's so gay' is idiotic. Black Monday is clearly referring to the colour black, and nothing to do with black people. It's not because of people thinking that black people are a bit rubbish with money, likewise a black mood isn't because black people are stereotyped as pissed off.

Arguing that 'that's so gay' is nothing to do and has never had anything to do with a negative perception of homosexuality is going to be tricky especially seeing as 'you're gay' not meaning you're rubbish, but actually implying homosexuality, is also used as an insult.

Gay = rubbish isn't separate to gay = homosexual, it's directly related to it.

We're only ten years (to the day) from the repeal of Section 28. 12 years since the age of consent was equalised. Gay teenagers still struggle to come out and aren't always accepted.

So stop trying to make out that using gay as a synonym for shit isn't a problem. It is.

Andro Mon 18-Nov-13 18:11:15

I would support such a campaign if I actually believed it would do what it says - focus on misuse of the word gay. What I think will actually happen, is that gay will become stigmatized with respect to all uses except as a descriptor related to homosexuality...mainly because it's easier to police the use of a word when you have only one accepted meaning rather than having to consider context.

Unfortunately, the more adults try to police things like this the more attractive the terms are to young people trying to get a rise out of each other.

Devora - I've been insulted, spat on, dismissed as an uneducated weirdo and ostracized all because of my faith. I have also had unfounded accusations and inaccurate opinions accredited to me for the same reason.

Devora Mon 18-Nov-13 18:12:00

Beautifully put, noblegiraffe.

Devora Mon 18-Nov-13 18:14:55

Andro, I'm very sorry to hear that. But you're missing the central point I was challenging: which was that gay people are 'more equal' than Christians. Do you believe that?

I'm not setting this up as a competition - nothing makes me more weary than debating hierarchies of oppression - but the point is commonly made as a rationale for not tackling homophobia and I think shouldn't go untested.

DioneTheDiabolist Mon 18-Nov-13 18:16:25

I am shock at some of the posts here.

Firstly, if Christian started to mean "a bit shit", you bet I'd be supporting a campaign to stamp out its use in the playground. But at the minute it's not.

Secondly, wtf is going on with the homophobic posts from adults? Elskovs, being gay is not necessarily about sex, just as being heterosexual is not about having sex. It's about same gender love. Do you really fear your DCs being taught about love?shock. Why will it be ok for them to learn about love between a man and a woman but not between a woman and a woman?

Maltese, I can't believe that you just compared the feelings if gay people to the feelings of trousers.confused

As for "preaching to the converted", I think this thread shows that there is so much work to be done as grown women don't even seem to realize the extent of their own homophobia.sad

Everhopeful Mon 18-Nov-13 18:17:43

I'm old enough to have grown up with meanings 2 and 3 and had to learn the others. I think it's a pity when words get altered this way sad

notthefirstagainstthewall Mon 18-Nov-13 18:22:48

So what about "queer" then?

Andro Mon 18-Nov-13 18:31:01

But you're missing the central point I was challenging: which was that gay people are 'more equal' than Christians. Do you believe that?

I don't necessarily believe that gay people are more equal in law, I do think that there is so much fear of causing offense or being open to an allegation of homophobia that in some cases gay people can end up being perceived to have been given preferential treatment - or in a few memorable cases at work were given preferential treatment quite blatantly.

LayMizzRarb Mon 18-Nov-13 18:31:22

All of you who say you cannot control what your children say, or blame use of the word on kids being kids, how do stop them from using other offensive words? What would you do if one of them said 'oh John, he's such a cunt' ? No doubt they know better than to use such offensive words. You add the word Gay to that list and explain why it should not be used as an attack or insult.

Once again, your Grandmother sighs under her breath and tells you how the word 'Gay' once meant just 'Happy'

Well, unless your Grandmother is over 100, she is the one in the wrong !!! It was the reserved classes that adopted the word, very often in an insulting context, to ridicule the concept of homosexuality. In the 21st century it is now used again, predominantly by schoolchildren, in a derisory manner. i.e - "Your coat/bag/shoes" are gay, implying a negative association with the word.

In the former years of the 20th Century the word 'Gay' was used in a homosexual context by Noel Coward in 'Bittersweet'
It is believed that he is using the spelling G A Y, as an English form of the french word 'Gai' which was used as far back as 1650 to describe sexual relations and dalliance between people of the same sex.

“ Pretty boys, witty boys,
You may sneer
At our disintegration.
Haughty boys, naughty boys,
Dear, dear, dear!
Swooning with affectation...
And as we are the reason
For the "Nineties" being gay,
We all wear a green carnation. ”
—Noel Coward, 1929 , Bitter Sweet

Andro Mon 18-Nov-13 18:32:58

^^and the issue of real and perceived preferential treatment doesn't just related to homosexuality!

elskovs Mon 18-Nov-13 18:39:28

I guess I just don't want it spelt out.

Im not sure why, I suppose I don't really want them to get the idea that having a same sex partner would be an option for them. Even though I know that people are born gay. Id rather their eyes weren't opened to the possibility just yet thanks.

I guess that is a bit homophobic.

QueenoftheSarf Mon 18-Nov-13 18:41:57

I totally agree with the point that's already been raised here by other posters that as language evolves, words can have more than one meaning.

Indeed that is very true of the word gay. It's only since relatively recently that it's been in common usage as a term describing being sexually attracted to people of the same sex and not to people of the opposite sex.

When I was at secondary school in the late 1970s and early 1980s you wouldn't have heard kids using the word "gay" to describe a person who preferred members of the same sex to members of the opposite sex. "Bummer" or "lessie" would probably have been the words of choice in those days. These days "bummer" would mean a dose of bad fortune. Similarly, you would never have heard the word "gay" used in place of "rubbish" or "stupid".

It's all a part of language changing and evolving.

My view for what it's worth is using the word "gay" to describe something that's perceived as stupid or naff is something that the overwhelming majority of children do not even associate with homosexuality or lesbianism.

"Gay" as it is used by kids to describe something perceived to be stupid or silly in my view has no direct link to intentional homophobic bullying.

HyvaPaiva Mon 18-Nov-13 18:44:45

I agree that homophobic language needs to be challenged and not only in schools. If you are championing this campaign, MNHQ, you might want to delete threads such as the current one in AIBU about the OP who 'giggled like a schoolgirl' because a patient where she works is called 'Mr Gay'.

Merguez Mon 18-Nov-13 18:45:11

I am not trying to 'make out' anything. I said I wasn't sure, and I am still keeping an open mind.
I am very, very anti-homophobia. I used to be a journalist for a gay magazine. I am interested in linguistics and how the meanings of words have evolved over time. And I think context and intention is everything.
Was hoping to participate in a reasoned debate about this, did not wish to make anyone angry which I seem to have done, so I think I will bow out now.

ElephantsAndMiasmas Mon 18-Nov-13 18:45:59

"A bit how it evolved from its original meaning of 'happy' I guess. I would be interested in hearing from someone who understands linguistics."

I'm not an aspect but as far as I know "gay" used to be one of many euphemisms for homosexual or camp behaviour, back when same sex relationships were illegal. Gay's rather nice old meaning - being bright and showy, as well as happy and liberated - meant that homosexual men started using it of each other, kind of a fond way of talking about something which most of society hated.

Clearly that transition - a nice word being adopted by an oppressed group to describe themselves - is completely different from the more recent transition. Using gay as an insult means taking what is now the core word to describe that group and using it to mean stupid/crap/ugly/non-functional as well. That's a hostile transition, done from the outside and creating an analogy between homosexuality and really negative things.

How would you feel if a word which was the main way you described something key about yourself, became a synonym for all things shit?

"You missed that goal! You're so Chinese!"

"Wow, that singer is shit, he's a proper single parent."

"The new managerial structure at work is totally Christian."

What's so utterly crap about this is that we've pretty effectively rejected saying people are "Irish" for stupid, or "mongs" or other offensive terms related to disability, because it's plainly obvious that's it hurtful and offensive. And now this. FFS.

Devora Mon 18-Nov-13 18:48:37

QueenoftheSarf, I was at secondary school in the late 70s/early 80s, and we certainly used the word gay!

Do you remember the Tom Robinson Band song, 'Glad to be gay'? Written 1976, became a cult hit about two years later.

Devora Mon 18-Nov-13 18:51:03

Yes, Elephants, it's bizarre how many people on this thread (and similar ones) are insistent that gay people have got this ALL WRONG, that we're getting our knickers in a twist about absolutely nothing at all...

ElephantsAndMiasmas Mon 18-Nov-13 18:51:51

LayMizzRarb So are you trying to tell me that all the women I know who are called Gay, who are aged roughly 50 and older, were named by their parents after a derogatory term for homosexuals? I really, really doubt it.

hareinthemoon Mon 18-Nov-13 18:53:40

Thank you Elephants; really clear.

StepAwayFromTheEcclesCakes Mon 18-Nov-13 18:54:02

when my boys were younger and went through a phase of saying it I used to say, 'yes... good as you G.A.Y' and then went on to explain about the gay rights movement. they seem to have grown up ok and are not homophobic in any way as far as I can see. I used to work in education as an advisor and we tried to get schools to tackle it too but the amount of teachers who pooh poohed it as just a word... they don't mean it, don't know what it means... doesn't mean the same anymore etc, was quite shocking.

QueenoftheSarf Mon 18-Nov-13 18:55:06

Devora - oh yes I do remember that song "Sing if you're glad to be gay, sing if you're happy that way..." but it certainly went right over my head at the time. I was out in the sticks mind you and Tom Robinson was probably at the vanguard of the gay movement. grin

ElephantsAndMiasmas Mon 18-Nov-13 18:55:12

I meant "not an expert" rather than an "aspect" (WTF smile) earlier.

"It's only since relatively recently that it's been in common usage as a term describing being sexually attracted to people of the same sex and not to people of the opposite sex."

I have a relative named Gay who knew a lot of gay men and women through her work, and was used from an early age to her name having a double meaning. From 19402-1950s I would think. She was fine about it, although it could be confusing, "I'm Gay" for instance can seem like a bit of a non sequitur at a party. grin

Andro Mon 18-Nov-13 18:57:42

For the record, I do agree that there is an issue with some of the language used - and more importantly the implied meaning of some of the language - but I also think that fear of potentially causing offense is also a problem because it inhibits dialogue.

QueenoftheSarf Mon 18-Nov-13 19:00:16

What's so utterly crap about this is that we've pretty effectively rejected saying people are "Irish" for stupid, or "mongs" or other offensive terms related to disability, because it's plainly obvious that's it hurtful and offensive. And now this. FFS.

Yes, they died out because language changes and evolves and so this will too. Mark my words.

FabricQueen Mon 18-Nov-13 19:02:41

I used to use the word gay as an insult, in a light-hearted and non-thinking way.

I am now gay. I have been with my partner for almost a year and it's been about 2 years since I started thinking about my sexuality and realising what I had been ignoring for so long. I'm 30, and I wouldn't use the word gay as an insult now, I consider it very bad taste and upsetting when people do so. I grew up, and wised up. Some of the attitudes on this thread are so sad though. sad

What does it honestly matter if someone is gay or straight, really? I can't believe we are still having this conversation with so many. This is like calling someone the N word, or making them wear a yellow star on their clothing at all times or sit on a different section of the bus. Anything which oppresses a minority, yes including bandying around slang derogatory names for them unthinkingly, is bloody awful. I don't understand why this is still hard to grasp for folk.

ElephantsAndMiasmas Mon 18-Nov-13 19:05:18

What really worries me about this issue, is that people are reluctant to pick up on it because deep down in secret, they actually think gay people are a little bit less good, a bit different, pretty fair game for comparing with something that's not as good as you'd wanted.

84% of teenagers who describe themselves as gay are finding this upsetting. These are our children. I'm an adult and my gay friends still won't kiss their partners goodbye at the airport, or hold hands on a night out, for fear of attracting abuse and violence. Don't we want our kids to grow up without fear of what may come from just being normal and having normal adult relationships in their own way?

ElephantsAndMiasmas Mon 18-Nov-13 19:10:12

"language changes and evolves and so this will too"

Yeah but it's not magic, language changes because people use words differently. Same goes for the person who posted the dictionary definition of gay below. Do you think the nice people at the dictionary publishers decided that gay made a good word for negative things by picking it out of a hat?! No, dictionaries try to reflect the changing way people use words. If I started using "Londoner" to mean a completely despicable person tomorrow, and it caught on, soon "utterly shit person" would be next to the word Londoner in the dictionary.

I'm sure the meaning of the word will change, but you can hurry that along by making it clear that it's NOT acceptable to use a word for someone's perfectly legit sexual orientation to mean rubbish. It's only going to change when people change it!

Devora Mon 18-Nov-13 19:10:50

QueenoftheSarf - and I had you down as a born and bred SarfLondoner grin

I tell you, TRB was BIG round Norwood and Camberwell...

noblegiraffe Mon 18-Nov-13 19:30:05

Will there be a campaign about this? In a society that highly values equality it seems that some are actually more equal than others.

The suggestion that gays are more equal than Christians and get all the attention is just jaw-dropping. A Christian country. Your elders get free seats in the House of Lords (how many gay mps can you name? How many more do you think are hiding it?), schools are required by law to perform a daily act of worship of a broadly Christian nature, 1 in 4 primary schools are C of E, pretty much all of them are currently preparing a Nativity, and you're complaining that an Internet forum and a campaign group are collaborating to try to stop gay kids being made to feel like shit?

Seriously? hmm

SnapespeareSong Mon 18-Nov-13 19:31:30

Thank you for this.

Ds1 (15) has always identified as bisexual, and as we see no shame at all in this...and he doesn't deal with people well socially sometimes (aspergers-wonder-kid) he thought the best way of tackling 'that's so gay' was to declare his sexuality.

He has been threatened, belittled, physically attacked and driven to school-refusal because of homophobic bullying.

DS2 (14) recently came out. Same school. Not the same sort of problems, as his attitude is a little different (not victim blaming DS1, different people deal with confrontation in different ways.)

I love my children. I will not have anyone cause them grief because of who they cannot help but love.

(DD is straight incidentally. I feel I would win something if we're playing
Poker. I'm not sure what.)

SnapespeareSong Mon 18-Nov-13 19:40:17

And now that I have read some of the comments...

Yes it's important. It belittles, it reduces someone's sexuality to the 'other' - to be mocked. 'Those socks are so gay' really? Are they involved in a same-socks-relationship? To call something gay is to reduce its status to being the 'bitch.' To fear lesbians because they don't 'need' men and to mock gay men because they are seen as less than men... Because one is the 'bitch'

It's not ok.

Devora Mon 18-Nov-13 19:44:32

Loving the same-socks relationship grin

All best to your boys, Snapespeare. Have you/they looked at the 'It Gets Better' website? It really DOES get better, IME.

Same-socks relationship grin Very good snapes

NancyShrew Mon 18-Nov-13 20:19:10

Im not sure why, I suppose I don't really want them to get the idea that having a same sex partner would be an option for them. Even though I know that people are born gay. Id rather their eyes weren't opened to the possibility just yet thanks.

Words fail me, but that is genuinely one of the most disgusting things I have ever read in my life. I hope with a mother like you, your children are straight, for their sake.

JeanBodel Mon 18-Nov-13 20:29:00

"elskovs Mon 18-Nov-13 18:39:28

I guess I just don't want it spelt out.

Im not sure why, I suppose I don't really want them to get the idea that having a same sex partner would be an option for them. Even though I know that people are born gay. Id rather their eyes weren't opened to the possibility just yet thanks.

I guess that is a bit homophobic."

shock

I hope this thread/campaign inspires people to take a good look at their own attitudes to homosexuality, and how they are passing on those attitudes to their children.

If you are happy for a child to know that they may, when grown up, have a loving relationship with a member of the opposite sex, then you should also be happy for your child to know that they may, when grown up, have a loving relationship with a member of the same sex.

Anything else is homophobic.

whatagreatname Mon 18-Nov-13 20:37:13

I was just talking to ds age 12 and he said that at his school anyone heard using the word gay in a negative way would have an automatic two day exclusion, a 'new thing' as he put it.

JeanBodel Mon 18-Nov-13 20:47:09

I remember when my son was learning to write. I looked at what he was doing and I said to my DH, 'He's going to be left-handed'.

We didn't say anything to him, of course. We told him to use whichever hand felt most comfortable. He swapped for a time the way they all do, but in the end he has settled on - being left-handed.

That's what being gay should be like for our kids.

It wasn't so long ago children weren't even told there was an option to be left-handed. They had to be right-handed. And if they persisted in their deviant ways various repressive methods were used to make them 'normal'.

Didn't change what they were, though. They were still left-handed kids, forced into being right-handed.

Being gay should not be like this.

DioneTheDiabolist Mon 18-Nov-13 20:52:45

Agreed Jean.

DioneTheDiabolist Mon 18-Nov-13 21:06:55

Elskovs, please watch the webchat tomorrow and do whatever you must to overcome your homophobia. You don't know and can't control your DC's sexuality. But you should do everything in your power to ensure that your attitudes and reactions do not make your child feel lesser.

As much as we work to change society's attitudes, if a child feels their parent disapproves the damage is massive.sad

BTW, I think you were pretty brave to admit your homophobia here.smile. But now you are aware of it you should be tackling it.

At least elskovs was being honest - that's a first step in changing our attitude to something?

bubblesmonkey Mon 18-Nov-13 21:42:05

Outstanding post by JeanBodel Mon 18-Nov-13 20:47:09

That's exactly it.

My 7yo DD has a lesbian mother and a bisexual father, both in same sex relationships. She knows what gay is and using it to mean something is rubbish would hurt her. Sadly, she will come across ignorant people, but I find that once educated, most people understand why not to use it.

Viviennemary Mon 18-Nov-13 21:42:59

It has become an insult. But on the other hand everyone knows that the word gay was once used quite differently. Like having a gay time at a party. And children parrot what they hear on TV. But when a child says something is gay meaning negative I don't think it has anything to do with homophobia. That's my interpretation of it. It's just another meaning applied to a world.

DioneTheDiabolist Mon 18-Nov-13 21:49:16

They may not realize that it's homophobic, but it's our job to teach them that it is. When I was very wee my mum heard me use the word spastic as an insult. I didn't realize it was disabilist. My mum sternly told me off, explained what it meant and punished me.

She was right to do so and I never did it again. Gay is no different.

bubblesmonkey Mon 18-Nov-13 21:51:32

It has everything to do with homophobia. Whether the specific child means it or not, they are contributing to the general idea that gay=rubbish and that it's okay to use the word gay as a put down. Whatever the word meant in the past, it quite clearly means homosexual now.
When my mum was giving my first birthday party she used a nursery rhyme with the 'n' word in it, another parent gasped and told her she couldn't say that. She didn't understand why at the time. She meant no harm by it, but it is offensive nonetheless.

scotagm Mon 18-Nov-13 21:55:49

Many secondary schools use a Stonewall supported DVD called "FIT". Suitable for Yr 10 through to Sixth Form. It is brilliant and amongst the best PHSE resources I have ever seen. With care and humour it challenges many preconceptions and deals very well with a range of issue regarding sexuality and relationships.

I have never seen students so engrossed.

No one has a fundamental human right not to be laughed at. Or belittled. But I don't think kids who use "gay" in this sense are belitting gays or being "homophobic", any more than kids of my generation who said "lame" were mocking people who had walking difficulties.

I think it's time we taught people to have a thicker skin. "Sticks and stones may break my bones" was a FAR more useful message to send to children, and far more likely to help them cope with the wider world.

But by all means, go on with your meaningless campaign. It only serves to make you feel good about yourselves. It will have naff all effect on what kids say to each other out on the sports field far out of our hearing, and that's as it should be.

curlew Mon 18-Nov-13 22:13:02

All you people who think that "gay" meaning rubbish is a complete different meaning of the word unconnected to homophobia, could you tell me how the change on meaning occurred? What is the etymology of gay meaning useless?

DioneTheDiabolist Mon 18-Nov-13 22:15:35

I think it's time to teach our children not to be homophobic, sexist, racist, bigoted or disabilist Falcon. But I guess I'm funny like that.hmm

Picked ds (10) up from school the other day. Some little kid he didn't know came charging up to us on his scooter and said 'you're gay!'. He'd been dared by his bigger brother. Had no idea what it meant, just thought it was daring and funny.

What on earth? How ingrained is it that 'gay' is something horrible - that a six year old is using it as an insult?

FWIW ds isn't, as far as I know, but what if one of his friends is? How must a child feel, if everything they've ever heard about being gay is bad? How on earth will that little boy who scooted up to ds feel one day, if he realises he is gay himself, or his best friend, or his brother (or his sister)?

Dione, I agree that you should teach your child to treat others with respect.

But all this zealous policing of the remarks of young children- and general suppression of free speech- is loathsome and dangerous.

And it's not going to work, anyway. Slang is slang. Language develops in ways that aren't governed by government policies or, gasp, Mumsnet campaigns. Not even Stalin or Hitler could stop people from developing and using their own anti-regime argot- but then, not even they wrote down the speech of kindergarteners to be kept on file as a black mark against their names forever, so maybe they had a thing or two to learn from this fine society of ours.

DioneTheDiabolist Mon 18-Nov-13 22:33:31

There's a massive difference between censorship and teaching children to be kind Falcon.

This campaign is not to ban words or make them illegal or put people who use them into forced labour camps.hmm This is a campaign to teach children what the word means and why it is hurtful. Fortunately children are quite open to this sort of thing. So I think it will be beneficial. Just like the racist campaigns of the past and who knows, maybe, just maybe their parents will get the message too.

TheRealYellowWiggle Mon 18-Nov-13 22:36:09

TMF you really are talking out of your hat. Black marks for ever? Meaningless campaign? If adopted by schools, this campaign will have a large - and positive - impact on what is said in schools, and therefore make the experiences of those who are lgbt (or anyone experiencing homophobic bullying) that wee bit better.
What teachers can, quite easily, change is the view of students that saying "that's so gay" etc is an innocuous statement.

curlew Mon 18-Nov-13 22:36:58

themaltesefalcon- so you are advocating no control at all? Nigger? Fag? Bitch? Where do you draw the line?

I've been called two of those three things, curlew, and will readily concede that it is really quite unpleasant to be so addressed, but no, I don't think it should be illegal.

TheRealYellowWiggle, not talking out of my hat, alas. Are you aware that childish utterances deemed to be unacceptable are taken down and filed now - in the land of hope and glory?

Lilka Mon 18-Nov-13 22:43:21

I'm far more interested in teaching my children the value of empathy and kindness than teaching them about their 'right to free speech'.

Not that we have a 'right to free speech' when it comes to certain hate language (which is a very good thing as far as I'm concerned, much like I have a right to swing my arm until I whack a stranger in the face with it). Actually, it really pisses me off when people whine about free speech as a justification for being hateful. The only time I'm going to talk about free speech to my children is if it comes up in the context of your right to critisise your government without being chucked into prison and tortured for it

Empathy is probably the most useful thing we can try our best to impart in our children. Then they can reason "How would I feel if I was gay and someone said 'that's so gay' to me?", "I would feel hurt", "I don't want other people to feel hurt", "so I won't say that myself". Voila. And we can help them with the firt step by explaining why saying someting is gay hurts others

The sticks and stones thing is utter bollocks. Kids committ suicide because of verbal abuse and internet message abuse. Words hurt, they can cause deep pain inside, and denying that is completely pathetic and tacitly supports bullying.

curlew Mon 18-Nov-13 22:46:14

The other thing that puzzles me is why people fight so hard for the right to use words that upset some people. If I used a word in all innocence, and somebody told me that it was a word that the group they belonged to found it upsetting, I would say "oh, sorry" and stop using it! Particularly if it was a word with loads of synonyms. Why wouldn't you? Even if you thought the group was being over sensitive and precious, what possible harm could come from just not using the word any more?

The only time I'm going to talk about free speech to my children is if it comes up in the context of your right to critisise your government without being chucked into prison and tortured for it

Oh the irony. At that point, your ability to talk about free speech will have long flown away.

People "whining" about fundamental freedoms has got us to a reasonably advanced point, compared with a couple of hundred years ago. Let's not regress.

ElephantsAndMiasmas Mon 18-Nov-13 22:48:44

TMF you sound like you read the Daily Mail and nod along with them sagely. WHO has mentioned anything about writing anything down at all?

I can't really believe that you just used Hitler as an analogy for trying to crack down on homophobic comments, when he was actually responsible for the deaths of thousands of gay people who were gassed and shot in the Holocaust. My ironyometer hasn't buckled so hard under the strain since I last heard the phrase "feminist witch hunt".

Lilka Mon 18-Nov-13 22:49:40

Why do you want the freedom to hurt people?

Speech is an action. Do you also want the freedom of action to hit strangers in the face as long as you don't cause any physical injury to them, just like words don't cause physical injury, bruising or anything else? What's the actual difference in the end?

Lilka Mon 18-Nov-13 22:53:58

Anyway, I wholly support the campaign. I think there are quite a lot of kids out there who are kind and empathetic and who don't know that saying 'that's so gay' is an insult, especially if they have parents who don't want them to know that gay people exist hmm A bit of education might make a difference. Of couse, use of 'that's so gay' will die out naturally in the end, but only after continueing to cause a lot of hurt, so trying to speed along the process of killing it is a very positive message to send out.

TheRealYellowWiggle Mon 18-Nov-13 22:56:18

I teach, but thankfully not in the land of Hope and glory. hmm
Schools probably monitor racist, homophobic incidents etc. That is a good thing. It does not label the child who said it for life, as you are trying to suggest.

TMF you sound like you read the Daily Mail and nod along with them sagely

Amazing! You couldn't be wrong-er. But it's amazing what that attempted slur says about you.

I'd love to know when the defence of fundamental rights became a "right-wing" concern in the minds of the middle-class. I think of it as a genuine leftie concern. But since I almost never stumble across genuine left-wingers on this site, I know I'm not onto a winner here.

Off to bed to try and dream up another utopia. Feeling very glad tonight that our family has moved away from Britain. 'Night, folks.

curlew Mon 18-Nov-13 23:00:31

Before you go, do you really think that "freedom of speech" includes the right to shout "Fire!" In a crowded theatre?

neolara Mon 18-Nov-13 23:18:48

Fantastic video here about why it's important to challenge the "so gay" when it is being used pregoratively.

DioneTheDiabolist Mon 18-Nov-13 23:36:00

Falcon, no one is challenging or uph anyone's fundamental rights (although I'm not entirely sure what you mean by this)

DioneTheDiabolist Mon 18-Nov-13 23:41:18

sorry, posted too soon blush

This campaign is not about upholding or challenging anyone's fundamental rights (although I'm not sure what you mean by this). It is about challenging a modern notion that Gay = A bit shit. Please watch Neolara's video and the webchat tomorrow to see what the real impact of this is.

If you decide that it is still ok, that's fine by me. As long as you recognize that it is ok for me to challenge you on it.smile

What I find so disturbing about reading some of the posts on here is just how insidious homophobic attitudes still are.
To defend anyone's "right" to ridicule, hurt, belittle and marginalise someone because they are gay or for a mother to suggest that her children should not learn about gay relationships (not about sex..when telling kids about fairy tale prince and princesses getting married and living happily ever after there is no reference to sex...why should it be any different to talking about having two mummies or daddies or two men or woman getting married? That's not sex education ffs!) is profoundly depressing and goes to show why this campaign is needed.

Its not about semantics or language evolution it is about the lived experience of hundreds of thousands of children and young people every day! If we perpetrate a world where 10% of the population are continually reminded in subtle and unsubtle ways that they are "not right" then homophobic bullying, internalised self-doubt, hatred and the current horrifyingly high rates of self-harm, mental health problems and suicide in young gay and lesbian people will continue.

Frankly, getting into esoteric arguments about the word "Gay" being "misappropriated" etc is like debating the position of deck chairs on the titanic.
This campaign is needed because even in 2013 a significant minority of our children, our young people are suffering from hate and name-calling and abuse....and that hurts them. It is damaging for them, their families and our society as a whole.

singarainbow Tue 19-Nov-13 00:35:20

I fully support this campaign, and I hope that in the future, saying something is "gay" causes as much horror as the use of the word "spastic" does, which was a word thrown about playgrounds when I was growing up - and as a child with a brother who has cerebral palsy, I found upsetting on a daily basis.

claig Tue 19-Nov-13 01:07:31

Just googled to see if this might be or might become something close to a crime

"When two policemen turned up unannounced at Alan Rawlinson's home asking to speak to his young son, the company director feared something serious had happened.

So he was astounded when the officers detailed 11-year-old George's apparent crime - calling one of his schoolfriends 'gay'.

They said primary school pupil, George, was being investigated for a 'very serious' homophobic crime after using the comment in an e-mail to a 10-year-old classmate.

But now his parents have hit out at the police, who they accused of being heavy-handed and pandering to political correctness.

"It is completely ridiculous," Mr Rawlinson said.

"I thought the officers were joking at first, but they told me they considered it a very serious offence.

"The politically correct brigade are taking over. This seemed like a huge waste of resources for something so trivial as a playground spat."

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-445996/Police-send-police-officers-tackle-boy-11-called-schoolmate-gay.html

claig Tue 19-Nov-13 01:10:15

"We are law-abiding citizens who have paid taxes all our lives.

"I've constantly contacted police about break-ins at my business and never get a suitable response.

"George was really upset, he thought he was going to be locked up. This just seemed like a huge waste of resources for something so trivial."

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-445996/Police-send-police-officers-tackle-boy-11-called-schoolmate-gay.html

claig Tue 19-Nov-13 01:13:10

"Inspector Nick Bailey, of Cheshire police, said no further action would be taken against George. However, he said the force had been obliged to record the incident as a crime and that they had dealt with it in a 'proportionate' manner.

"The parents of the boy believed it was more sinister that just a schoolyard prank," Inspector Bailey said.

"We were obliged to record the matter as a crime and took a proportionate and maybe old fashioned view."

DioneTheDiabolist Tue 19-Nov-13 01:14:08

What was the outcome Claig?

claig Tue 19-Nov-13 01:21:48

They dropped it.
However, I don't know if the incident is recorded at all. Maybe someone knows if records are kept.

DioneTheDiabolist Tue 19-Nov-13 01:22:13

Oh, just googled it. The parents of the boy who received the e-mail made a complaint to the police after seeing it. Police said it was not a one off incident and had to be investigated.

I understand why you would want your local bobbies to be as diligent as these one's Claig. Perhaps you could write them a letter to that effect. Anyway, no one was criminalised. No one's freedom of speech was compromised.

claig Tue 19-Nov-13 01:26:51

"Education Secretary Michael Gove yesterday declared war on the ‘utterly outrageous and medieval’ use of the word ‘gay’ as an insult.

He will study current laws to ensure they are ‘properly policed’ and could even ‘sharpen’ them in a bid to stamp out offensive homophobic language.

Mr Gove told a conference held by pressure group Stonewall that the Coalition was determined to protect gay pupils from being subjected to homophobic bullying at school.

He said that it was unacceptable to use the word ‘gay’ as abuse and named and shamed former Radio One Breakfast Show DJ Chris Moyles."

....

"Famously, Sam Brown, a 21-year-old student, was taken to court in 2006 for calling a policeman’s horse ‘gay’ after being arrested under section five of the Public Order Act.

His remarks were deemed likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress by police, but the prosecution dropped the case at Oxford magistrates’ court."

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2357196/Gove-declares-war-use-word-gay-insult.html

claig Tue 19-Nov-13 01:27:56

'Anyway, no one was criminalised.'

Well that's a relief

DioneTheDiabolist Tue 19-Nov-13 01:33:06

I don't know about "medieval", but I agree that it is outrageous to use homosexuality as a term of abuse. Personally, I consider Gove an absolute twit, but I guess even absolute twits are right some of the time.

DioneTheDiabolist Tue 19-Nov-13 01:33:52

I seem to remember that even we were in agreement on one thread.grin

claig Tue 19-Nov-13 01:44:59

"We're asking them to display the posters and train their teachers to tackle this damaging language.

www.stonewall.org.uk/at_school/education_for_all/quick_links/9291.asp

What kind of training is involved and what happens if a child uses the term about an item rather than a person? What does the training say?

LayMizzRarb Tue 19-Nov-13 02:35:58

In the 50's my Mums family had a black Labrador called Nigger. When they named it, no way did it have any connection with any hatred or insult to any ethnic minorities. Nigger brown, or negro came in part from the Spanish/French words for Black - negro. People would refer to the colour of a coat, or fabric, or paint, as Nigger brown. As language as evolved, it is apparent that a lot of people find the word offensive and hurtful for many reasons and so it is no longer used by anyone with a senseof intelligence of respect for others.

noblegiraffe Tue 19-Nov-13 06:53:40

Given that I'm a teacher who already polices use of the word gay as in insult in her classroom, I am totally baffled by the assertion that this campaign is some sort of nazi-esque thought control scheme intended to criminalise innocents.

Unthinking use of the word gay to describe objects (this textbook is gay) is easily challenged with a verbal intervention. Kid, who is unlikely to be homophobic, merely chooses his words more carefully in future.

Homophobic use - school discipline system.

I also correct kids who use spastic to mean clumsy as they are unaware it is offensive, and also those who use twat thinking it's a bit like twit and not aware of what it really means. They are usually mortified.

Kids need educating about acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. It's not being Big Brother to police their use of language, it's part of my job as a teacher.

curlew Tue 19-Nov-13 06:58:43

My children's friends know that there are words they don't use in my house or car. These words include "gay" to mean anything but homosexual.

They might very well use them out of my hearing- but I like to think that being pulled up on them makes them think. And, because they are all nice, kind, thoughtful people, I assume they would prefer not to use language that upsets or hurts other people.

TheRealYellowWiggle Tue 19-Nov-13 07:03:29

Regarding the dog, it's a good example because while the owners weren't doing anything wrong at the time as they saw it, once they learned of the offensive it can cause they would be wrong to do the same thing again. And we're not talking about people just being a wee bit put out by living in a culture of homophobia, we are talking about children leaving school too early to escape it, and sadly too many choosing suicide as the ultimate escape. In the light of this it's not hard to say "we don't use homophobic language" to your classes, is it?

curlew Tue 19-Nov-13 07:03:58

"In the 50's my Mums family had a black Labrador called Nigger. When they named it, no way did it have any connection with any hatred or insult to any ethnic minorities"
This could well have been true of people in the UK- it was used as a derogatory term in the States from, I think, the end of the 19th century. I come from a left wing, very international family, and I remember a reel of "nigger brown" thread being viewed with mixed shocked amusement and horror on my mother's sewing machine in the early 60s.

Lazyjaney Tue 19-Nov-13 07:21:22

I think you're wasting your time with this, the word is undergoing another semantic shift. It's like Canute trying to stop the tide. Better off prepare for the change.

curlew Tue 19-Nov-13 07:43:56

We seem to have been able to stop the semantic shift of "spastic" and "retard" from medical terms to insults...

TheRealYellowWiggle Tue 19-Nov-13 08:09:15

Everything stupid when I was at school was Irish (more ironic as so were we blush ) Noone says that in schools anymore.
Have the people who want to use the word investigated the reasons why it makes lgbt people feel bad, or does that not matter?

DziezkoDisco Tue 19-Nov-13 08:35:33

If a word is used in an way that offends some people I would NEVER let my child use it.

I even stop saying oh my god around MIL even though I swear like a trouper.

intitgrand Tue 19-Nov-13 08:58:54

around here gay has another meaning .That costs a gay lot of money, It's a gay big bruise you've got there etc

We seem to have been able to stop the semantic shift of "spastic" and "retard" from medical terms to insults...
You think? they have just gone out of fashion.We have 'fucktard' now same derivation as retard.

curlew Tue 19-Nov-13 09:02:12

That's a compltely different, Scottish dialect word spelled "gey". And is a complete red herring.

Presumably you wouldn't have an issue with telling a child not to say "fucktard"?

NotCitrus Tue 19-Nov-13 09:21:23

I've not had much time for Stonewall - their handling of the B in LGB is to add 'bisexual' to the title of documents then ignore totally - but with this campaign they are spot on.

Loads of gay teenagers and adults say they find gay used to mean rubbish very hurtful, and the responses of some teachers worse. Yes words shift, but we've managed to get people to stop using other offensive words in public - spastic, paki - by decent adults taking a stand and not using the word, followed by telling children it is offensive and not to use those words. No reason it couldn't work for 'gay' too.

Devora Tue 19-Nov-13 09:43:32

See, this is what baffles me about these threads.

It's the complete lack of intellectual curiosity in those posters who come on here to tell gay people that they're just wrong. All those children who suffer from homophobic bullying are just wrong. They don't understand linguistics, they don't understand that it isn't used in a mean or bullying way. Wrong.

They never ask: what is your experience, how does it feel, what do you think would help? They don't seem interested in any opinion other than their own. Some even seem to think that knowing things might give their children the gay.

I just don't understand their lack of interest in finding out WHY gay people are all asking for this thing that seems ridiculously pointless to them. Here's an analogy: I'm an old school 80s feminist whose default position is always that gender is a social construct. Then along comes the organised trans community. I have, in all honesty, struggled with the idea that you can be born in the wrong body and I continue to do so. But curiosity, awareness that I don't actually know everything and am sometimes wrong, and sheer human decency mean that I do try to listen with an open mind and an open heart. And I have learned a lot, though I still have questions. I don't rampage onto threads about trans issues and say, "You're wrong! There's no such thing! Get over yourselves, you and your PC nonsense!"

My partner is black, I am white. Quite often she says things about racism that I don't get, or I frankly disagree with. I don't feel I have to say I agree with her if I don't. But I do have a responsibility not to simply close her down. So we talk, I listen, I learn, sometimes I come to see it from her point of view and sometimes I don't. But I wouldn't dream of just telling her she has got it all wrong.

Isn't that what is needed here?

DioneTheDiabolist Tue 19-Nov-13 10:09:04

Yes Devora, it is.

noblegiraffe Tue 19-Nov-13 10:32:39

What's the phrase? Check your privilege.

Don't understand why gay teenagers might have a problem coming to terms with their sexuality while the word used to describe that sexuality is also used to describe anything crap, rubbish, untrendy?

Well no, but I expect you aren't a gay teenager struggling to come to terms with your sexuality. So until you are, defer to their opinion on the matter.

CuntyBunty Tue 19-Nov-13 10:40:36

Using the word "Gay" as a description for something that is a bit shit is hurtful to lots of people. Do you still want to do it and not have it nicely and informatively challenged in schools those of you who don't see what the fuss is all about?
10% of us are estimated to be gay. If it is fine for gay=shit, do we care if 10% of us are made to feel shit? I know I fucking do.

FFS, my DS was 7, when he started doing the "that's so gay" thing. After I explained to him why it wasn't nice and asked "how would you feel?..." he didn't do it anymore. Not at the age of 8, not at the age of 9 and certainly not now at the age of 10 within my hearing. This campaign is about doing that. That's all. No blood need be shed and gay children will have a few less insults thrown at them. It's not too much to ask is it? Or do you want to quote the dictionary at them and teach them to "grow a thicker skin", because we all know how easy that is.

thanks for Devora and NobleGiraffe.

curlew Tue 19-Nov-13 11:09:02

It's like people who complain about political correctness. I have never found anyone who could tell me anything that political correctness stops them doing or saying that is not racist, sexist, disablist, homophobic or just downright rude.

And the others who have decided to be upset that the "lovely old word "gay" " has been taken over by homosexuals.....

claig Tue 19-Nov-13 11:36:44

The term political correctness has the following political roots. Its objectives were to define what should be orthodox.

"Historically, the term was a colloquialism used in the early-to-mid 20th century by Communists and Socialists in political debates, referring pejoratively to the Communist "party line", which provided for "correct" positions on many matters of politics. The term was adopted in the later 20th century by the New Left, applied with a certain humour to condemn sexist or racist conduct as "not politically correct""

...

"Mainstream usages of the term politically correct, and its adjectival derivatives – “political correctness” and “PC” – began in the 1990s, when right-wing politicians adopted the phrase as a pejorative descriptor of their ideologic enemies – especially in context of the Culture Wars about language and the content of public-school curricula. Generally, any policy, behavior, and speech code that the speaker or the writer regards as the imposition of a liberal orthodoxy about people and things, can be described and criticized as “politically correct”"

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_correctness

claig Tue 19-Nov-13 11:42:44

The picture at the top of this thread uses the phrase

"That's so gay!"

Many children use the phrase and do not think they are being homophobic.
Should the sanctions against homophobic language be applied to children who use the phrase and what are the appropriate sanctions and might it one day lead to criminal sanctions?

claig Tue 19-Nov-13 11:44:48

"Education Secretary Michael Gove yesterday declared war on the ‘utterly outrageous and medieval’ use of the word ‘gay’ as an insult.

He will study current laws to ensure they are ‘properly policed’ and could even ‘sharpen’ them in a bid to stamp out offensive homophobic language."

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2357196/Gove-declares-war-use-word-gay-insult.html

claig Tue 19-Nov-13 11:54:04

On a different topic, why has the term "political correctness" gained such currency?

It is because it is an opposition to attempts to define a political orthodoxy.

At first it was used as a pejorative term by socialists who did not agree with the Communist party line and Communists who wanted to make that party line the orthodoxy.

Then later it was taken up and used pejoratively by right wing politicians who did not agree with the left wing party line and left wingers who wanted to make their beliefs the orthodoxy.

The opposition to political correctness ultimately stems from opposition to an orthodox way of thinking and a wish to be allowed heterodoxy in thought and language.

DioneTheDiabolist Tue 19-Nov-13 12:16:43

Read past the first line Claig and you will see what the aims of the campaign are.smile

noblegiraffe Tue 19-Nov-13 12:21:46

Slippery slope warning! Children being asked not to call their friend's new trainers gay leads to man being imprisoned for having the surname Gay despite not being homosexual.

Just like civil partnerships and gay marriage have led to a rash of people marrying their pets.

Tiredemma Tue 19-Nov-13 12:22:03

Great campaign- hopefully it may go as far to 'educate' the kids in my DS2's class who think that its ok to call him a 'ginger queer' because- well he has strawberry blond hair (yes- strawberry blond) and...... because he goes to stage school.

claig Tue 19-Nov-13 12:29:04

noblegiraffe did you read what Gove was quoted as saying?

claig Tue 19-Nov-13 12:37:20

"Education Secretary Michael Gove has pledged to clampdown on the use of homophobic language in the school playground.

He told a conference: “It is outrageous and medieval to think that the use of the word ‘gay’ as an insult is somehow acceptable.

“Whether it is Chris Moyles (the former Radio One disc jockey) or anyone else it is wrong and it should be called out.” Moyles was accused of being homophobic after he said he would not accept a telephone ring-tone “because it’s gay”.

Mr Gove, who was addressing the annual education conference of Stonewall - the gay and lesbian rights campaign group, said he would be holding discussions with it to determine whether the existing law outlawing incitement of hatred was being “properly policed” - and that he would be prepare to consider strengthening it if necessary."

www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/michael-gove-pledges-clampdown-on-use-of-homophobic-language-in-school-playgrounds-8691132.html

CointreauVersial Tue 19-Nov-13 13:06:35

Aargh, DS has suddenly started using "gay" as an insult, and he's 14! I didn't challenge him when he went through a brief phase of using the word when he was at primary school, but I'm jolly well planning to challenge him now, and this thread might give him food for thought. I can't understand for the life of me why it's back in his vocabulary of insults.

aswanny Tue 19-Nov-13 13:11:10

I don´t really have time to read all the comments, but what I did read I realised no one has raised a very important issue....... Homophobic language is not just directed at Homosexuals or Homosexual concepts of behaviour. Homophobia is the fear and intolerance of homosexuality or perceived gender behaviour. Words like "Girl" and "Tomboy" are equally homophobic and equally destructive. In a similar way gays and lesbians can be equally homophobic. I like the campaign and the partners but I fear it will confuse all parties as much as raise awareness.

noblegiraffe Tue 19-Nov-13 13:15:56

Claig, here are some details about the current homophobic hatred law

www.donharrison.org.uk/2012/03/25/uk-passes-new-law-against-homophobic-hatred/

Is there anything in there that would suggest that should Gove wish to suddenly outlaw improper use of the word 'gay', or prosecute children for playground banter, that this would actually make its way into law?

curlew Tue 19-Nov-13 13:29:13

"The opposition to political correctness ultimately stems from opposition to an orthodox way of thinking and a wish to be allowed heterodoxy in thought and language."

No it doesn't. It stems from ignorant people's wish to be allowed to call a spade a spade, a nignog a nignog and a queer a queer.

claig Tue 19-Nov-13 13:33:22

I agree with that law

"The new law will, however, “help prevent and tackle acts of serious hatred against individuals defined by reference to their sexual orientation, with a high threshold for prosecutions which must be approved by the Attorney General and heard before a jury.”

"Is there anything in there that would suggest that should Gove wish to suddenly outlaw improper use of the word 'gay', or prosecute children for playground banter, that this would actually make its way into law?"

No, nothing in that law suggests any of that. I think that law covers homophobic abuse.

If the newspapers are reporting on Gove accurately then they seem to be suggesting that he would be "holding discussions with it to determine whether the existing law outlawing incitement of hatred was being “properly policed” - and that he would be prepare to consider strengthening it if necessary" over what may be said in school playgrounds.

Does the law not go far enough?

noblegiraffe Tue 19-Nov-13 13:43:00

Claig, the quote doesn't say at all that Gove is considering strengthening the law to police what goes on in playgrounds (does he have the power to strengthen laws unilaterally anyway?). Just that he is going to discuss with Stonewall whether the current law (which is fine) is being properly policed, and then considering strengthening it if necessary. None of that suggests policing playground banter, especially seeing as it is on par with racial hatred laws which are very rarely used, and certainly not against school children.

Besides, Gove made that speech at the start of July. We're nearly at the end of November.

claig Tue 19-Nov-13 13:45:17

"It stems from ignorant people's wish to be allowed to call a spade a spade, a nignog a nignog and a queer a queer."

Do you believe that that is where the Rt Hon David Cameron's use of the term stems from in his speech of April 11 2011

"We listen to what people want.

We roll up our sleeves.

And we get on with the job

And there is something else that we promised, that is particularly relevant today...

We promised to get rid of the red tape and political correctness that stops people getting on their lives...."

www.conservatives.com/News/Speeches/2011/04/David_Cameron_We_have_an_incredibly_important_few_weeks_coming_up.aspx

claig Tue 19-Nov-13 13:47:14

"Just that he is going to discuss with Stonewall whether the current law (which is fine) is being properly policed, and then considering strengthening it if necessary."

Yes, and what has caused him to do this?

curlew Tue 19-Nov-13 13:52:45

David Cameron knows how to push people's buttons. And Middle England think thŵtnhqs somehow or other "political correctness" is getting in their way. If you ask how, they have no idea.

DC knows that he wouldn't be challenged on that- because there is a right wing consensus that political correctness is a bad thing. I bet even you, Claig, couldn't tell me exactly how, specifically, it's a bad thing, and give m examples.

claig Tue 19-Nov-13 14:08:07

Political correctness was what socialists pejoratively called the techniques of communists who tried to enforce a political orthodoxy on the socialists.

"Generally, any policy, behavior, and speech code that the speaker or the writer regards as the imposition of a liberal orthodoxy about people and things, can be described and criticized as “politically correct”"

That is how the term is used by right wing politicians and much of the public at large.

It can mean holding any view that the metroplitan elite believe to be "incorrect", such as that manmade climate change is not real among a myriad of other views deemed "politically incorrect" by a political elite that wants to circumscribe the legitimate area of political debate.

noblegiraffe Tue 19-Nov-13 14:15:51

Yes, and what has caused him to do this?

An upcoming election is my guess.

I really don't think you need to worry about draconian anti-homophobia in school laws being drafted. Look at what a hassle it was simply to repeal section 28.

claig Tue 19-Nov-13 14:15:57

An "ex-politician" once accused Mrs Duffy, a lifelong Labour voter, of being a "bigoted woman".

Why? What did she do? Did she dare to have a politically incorrect thought?

curlew Tue 19-Nov-13 14:22:05

"It can mean holding any view that the metroplitan elite believe to be "incorrect", such as that manmade climate change is not real among a myriad of other views deemed "politically incorrect" by a political elite that wants to circumscribe the legitimate area of political debate."

Well, the metropolitan elite and 97% of the worldwide scientific community! But I don't think it's considered "politically incorrect" to reject man made climate change, is it?

Oh, and the Mrs Duffy thing? Screw up from start to finish. But I don't think she was called a bigot because she dared to say something politically incorrect- IiRC she was called a bigot because she said something bigoted!

What are some of the other myriad views?

claig Tue 19-Nov-13 14:23:56

'I really don't think you need to worry about draconian anti-homophobia in school laws being drafted. Look at what a hassle it was simply to repeal section 28.'

I agree. I think homophobia and racism are serious problems and people should be punished for them. Nobody should have to suffer abuse.

I think that if the focus becomes phrases such as "That's so gay!" then the rightful objective of stamping out homophobic abuse may be weakened.

It's about what is proportionate and what is homophobic abuse.

Mrs Duffy was called a "bigoted woman". She had a politically incorrect thought. But she was soon apologised to and her hand was shaken and the "ex-politician" lost the election. It was not proportionate to call Mrs Duffy a "bigoted woman".

claig Tue 19-Nov-13 14:27:00

'Well, the metropolitan elite and 97% of the worldwide scientific community'
They are one and the same wink

"What are some of the other myriad views?"

That would require a whole new thread of its own and a detailed analysis of the New Labour manifesto among other things.

TheSilveryPussycat Tue 19-Nov-13 16:55:11

I do seem to remember once in CAB training a couple of decades ago being told we couldn't refer to black coffee - they seemed serious about this.

I have an MA in Linguistics and studied Conversation Analysis. Language evolves. As the 4 definitions given above indicate, gay is a homophone (=sound alike) with 4 meanings. And context plays its part.

The French have a long history of policing their language. It hasn't worked.

Louise1956 Tue 19-Nov-13 19:01:01

The word 'gay' originally meant light hearted, happy, high spirited etc. if it is to be used properly, that is it's original meaning.

getting sanctimonious about the use of the word disparagingly will have no effect on schoolchildren at all. they despise anti bullying week anyway. My youngest son tells me that bullying has increased massively at his school this week in response to the anti bullying campaign.

Devora Tue 19-Nov-13 19:08:43

What do you think should be done to help gay kids in school, Louise?

curlew Tue 19-Nov-13 19:10:41

"The word 'gay' originally meant light hearted, happy, high spirited etc. if it is to be used properly, that is it's original meaning."

HOUSE!

ashesgirl Tue 19-Nov-13 19:21:54

Support this wholeheartedly, you have to start somewhere.

It gets people thinking about the issue.

My 5 year old knew that men could be married to other men and women to other women so I don't see the issue with the sex ed objection. You just make it age-appropriate like you would with anything.

Stonewall have done an amazing job to bring gay issues into the mainstream, keep up the good work.

ashesgirl Tue 19-Nov-13 19:23:01

And I will say that some of the reactionary views on this thread are very depressing.

TheSilveryPussycat Tue 19-Nov-13 19:23:30

<linguistic face-palm> at "used properly". <pedant's face-palm at "it's">

LurcioLovesFrankie Tue 19-Nov-13 19:47:00

Adding my wholehearted support to this campaign too. My 5 year old knows that sometimes women fall in love with other women, sometimes men fall in love with other men, that his friends J & S have two mummies. It would never occur to him to find this strange. In fact, now that he's starting to encounter prejudice for the first time (or at least realise what it is) what he finds really weird is that people could be so fundamentally unfair as to think there's something wrong with people who just happen to be different from them.

Thank goodness there are heterosexuals here who know the difference between homophobia and harmlessly evolving language. You know how silly LGBTs can be about this.

Thank goodness there are heterosexuals here who are raising their children to understand that some people are gay, and not to be afraid of difference. Your DS sounds great Lurcio, and very cool!
I hope my DC are similar.

TheSilveryPussycat Tue 19-Nov-13 20:16:51

I just don't think you can hold back that tide - but would be happy for another word to express the "lame" concept - hold on a minute, did I just say "lame"? Is that disablist? Well, yes it probably was when it was first used (haven't checked).

I really don't want anyone to be offended by "gay" used in its most recent meaning. Perhaps if gay people started using it to mean lame pathetic that would help to make the distinction clearer within the language?

TheSilveryPussycat Tue 19-Nov-13 20:18:47

*as well as using it to mean "gay"= homosexual, I mean. Context is what usually distinguishes homophones, there is also intonation and syntax of course.

Lazyjaney Tue 19-Nov-13 20:41:57

Shift happens, this horse has already bolted into the OED.

IMO this campaign will be like banning the Sex Pistols, totally counterproductive.

DixieWest Tue 19-Nov-13 20:48:13

As a gay woman who's spent 8+ years trying to come to terms with my sexuality I thought I'd add my bit.

I've spent the last 8 years experiencing sneering in the street, derogatory comments from people, sometimes open insults directed at me and my partner. I struggled so much to come to terms with my sexuality, for years I woke up every day wishing I was straight and "normal", I tried dating men and leading a "straight" lifestyle, I experienced suicidal thoughts, clinical depression and other mental health issues because I just couldn't face being gay and all the shit that came with it anymore. I didn't ask to be gay, I come from a middle class, religious family, who aren't best pleased about it themselves. I still wake up some days and wish I could be straight, because believe it or not there are a great many people still out there that make me feel like a second class citizen because of my sexuality. Sometimes it isn't even the direct comments, but the shocked faces and whispers behind my back that hurt the most.

I am a fairly regular poster (NCd) and I would like to say one thing to the vast majority of mumsnetters on this site.

To those of you who teach your children that being gay is acceptable and "no big deal", thank you. From the bottom of my heart I honestly thank you, because you are making sure that when today's children grow up they will feel a little bit less like I do. You are making the world a better place for people like me. When I come on here and I see the comments made on a thread like this I feel that little bit tougher and more able to face tomorrow and any homophobic twats that I come across. Too many people think "I'm not gay so it's not my problem", but those of you who make the stand against homophobia, challenge derogatory comments and educate your children, even without a personal agenda, are truly inspirational.

We still have a long way to go, I look forward to the day I no longer have to worry about people's reaction when they find out I'm gay, but down to a lot of you, hopefully that's the world your kids will live in!

So every time any of you do something, no matter how small it is, to stamp out homophobia and teach acceptance, please remember what a truly wonderful thing you are doing for me and thousands of others thanks.

SirChenjin Tue 19-Nov-13 20:57:54

IMO this campaign will be like banning the Sex Pistols, totally counterproductive

I disagree. I am ancient (well, nearly 45) and remember clearly when nigger, paki, queer, poof, chinky, darkie, spaz etc etc etc were considered absolutely fine and nothing to get your knickers in a twist about. Those who didn't like it were just over-reacting - it was just a bit of fun, and not meant to cause offense. In fact, I remember singing "eeny, meeny, miny, mo, catch a nigger by the toe" in the playground, and it went unchecked by any of the teachers or playground supervisors. The single black child in the small village school probably didn't appreciate it, but hey, what the hell hmm

Fast forward a few years, we all grew up, and this new generation challenged the use of this language. Far from being 'counterproductive', I would say it achieved a hell of a lot. I'm sure that with the same determination we can stamp out the use of gay to mean crap, so rather than hiding behind the Sex Pistols we should be getting behind Stonewall and pushing for this change - just as we did back in the 80s.

Thanks for the encouragement Dixie thanks

MinesAPintOfTea Tue 19-Nov-13 21:03:23

There is a big difference between throwing people in prison for using a word and encouraging parents and schools to highlight to children that they are using a deeply hurtful term and it is not pleasant behaviour. I think this campaign is a good idea.

TheRealYellowWiggle Tue 19-Nov-13 21:18:59

Gay has another meaning as rubbish, lame etc. lots of children using the word don't even realise it could be viewed as negative to "actual" gay people. BUT BUT BUT it only became used to mean crap, as being gay is thought to be crap. It is not random, it is based on the negative connotations of being gay. It's crap to be gay; so something that is crap can also be called gay. Iyswim.
From my reading of the thread I am heartened to see that the people objecting to or trivialising the campaign do not appear to be teachers. The bad side of that is that they are parents of children.

ashesgirl Tue 19-Nov-13 21:42:00

I am glad Dixie that people posting here in support do make a difference. We just have to keep speaking out. It's the little things that matter. There will be a cultural shift, well there already has been, but still more to do.

Wigeon Tue 19-Nov-13 22:25:43

elskov - I really don't get your objection to telling primary aged children about same-sex relationships, or that this should be stored up until they are older. My cousin is in a civil partnership and has a baby with her partner. My children, aged 2 and 5, visit them and their little cousin. The 2 year old just completely accepts that the baby has two mummies. The 5 year old has asked a little about it and it has been very straightforward to explain that Cousin and Cousin Partner love each other and so they got married. I have not got into technical explanations about lesbian sex! (although I did give her a straight-forward explanation of how my cousin's partner had a baby without there being an obvious daddy - she already knows the biological basics of how a baby is created and grows in a heterosexual relationship).

So for us it's completely irrelevant when to introduce the idea of same-sex relationships - it's completely part of their lives because of my cousin. And not in the least bit complicated to explain or age-inappropriate.

To all the gay people posting who are surprised at some of the attitudes on this thread - there are plenty of people in heterosexual relationships who DO get why this matters and ARE bringing up their children to be accepting of same-sex relationships - why, they might even end up in one themselves! Hopefully you know plenty of these tolerant heterosexuals personally!

And finally, my DH is a secondary school teacher and always picks up pupils who he hears using 'gay' as an insult, even before this campaign smile.

SugarMouse1 Wed 20-Nov-13 01:00:40

Just out of interest, was it ever acceptable to use the N-word in schools? Before political correctness came in.

Using the word 'spaz' or 'retard' in that way needs tackling too, its offensive to disabled people

Also, 'slags', 'sluts', 'ho's' etc, as they are generally only applied to women and what is SO wrong with sexual promiscuity?

MiniMonty Wed 20-Nov-13 02:07:43

Hmmmm.... That's SO BLONDE !

There seems to be a bit of low grade philosophy at work here and a basic misunderstanding of why school children call each other names, constantly poke fun at and insult each other.

Kids in the middle of puberty (and that's who we're talking about) are at sea in many, many ways. Using "that's so gay" is really no different for them to "spaz" or "dickhead" or "four eyes". It's simply a way of saying (to themselves) "I'm very normal indeed (I hope) and I know where I stand in the world". Which, of course, they know they don't.

Teenagers identify with this group or that (and flit and change continually) until they find a place where they feel they can look at the world and say "I am what I am", and while the overwhelming majority of teenagers have no problem at all with the notion of homosexuality, are far less uptight, worried, confused or in the dark than a similar group would have been twenty years ago, they all use "that's so gay" as an expression to simply mean "that's rubbish". As incomprehensible to me as "sick" meaning "brilliant" but, crucially, with zero homophobic overtones. Who will start a poster campaign when the linguistic fad swaps from "that's so gay" to "that's so blonde" or "that's so Northern"? Who will start the poster campaign that says "100% of kids who wear glasses are called "four eyes by their peers"?

The language will alter over generations but the behaviour will always exist as people in the most turbulent phase of their lives negotiate the bumps and obstacles of puberty and growing into young adults. Identifying who you are, what you care about and what you believe is a bumpy process and by attacking a minority you clearly identify yourself with a majority (i.e. "I'm very normal indeed").

Although I appreciate the sentiment behind this poster campaign, whoever thought it up is either unaware, or knows and doesn't care, that within minutes of them going onto the walls of Britain's schools someone will scrawl under the headline "THATS SO GAY" the simple and defeating one liner
"yes it is".

Lastly, I honestly believe that the generation who are at school now need no education at all in the business of not discriminating against gay people (or any other people) and that a campaign like like this could actually be counter-productive.

curlew Wed 20-Nov-13 06:28:52

"Using "that's so gay" is really no different for them to "spaz" or "dickhead" or "four eyes".

Well, not surprisingly, I wouldn't want my children saying any of those, either!
But you miss the point. If "four eyes" was used to describe a pair of undesirable trainers or a broken phone then there might be a parallel. "Gay" is being used as a generic word to describe something useless or pathetic. Not as an insulting thing to say to an individual.

TheRealYellowWiggle Wed 20-Nov-13 06:57:25

Minimonty everything you say sounds at surface level quite convincing until you remember that teenagers, actual real teenagers not just adults remembering bring teenagers, say they are unhappy about hearing gay used as a generic insult. Does their experience just not matter?
Incidentally not a word has ever been written on any posters I have up to do with sexual orientation. Not a single one.

Lazyjaney Wed 20-Nov-13 07:51:42

"Fast forward a few years, we all grew up, and this new generation challenged the use of this language"

Adults telling pubescent kids not to do things the adults disapprove of has never had resounding success in the past, usually the opposite effect in fact, and I doubt this will be any different.

IMO this is an older generation, which themselves changed the meaning of the word, not liking it that a new generation, is changing the word's meaning again. It's just another sign of the generational shift going on.

The real irony is that this young generation is probably the least homophobic ever. They really are not the problem, targeting them is a huge own goal IMO.

Davejones Wed 20-Nov-13 07:54:19

My father told me recently that when he was at school, homosexuality was a criminal offence and only legalised in 1967. It is a big shift to go in such a relatively short time interval from that to now "celebrating" what is, in fact, an unfortunate condition which I would not wish upon anyone. Would not the best solution be for everyone (including children) to keep quiet about their own sexual proclivities, get on with their education and take up sport or learn to play a musical instrument instead of obsessing about sex? Teenage girls should practice the piano, not safe sex.

DziezkoDisco Wed 20-Nov-13 07:58:15

I cannot believe people are arguing against this campaign, such ignorance, I haven't heard one gay person arguing agsinst it.

Ivremember my uncle sounding like some of the posters here. Saying nigger isnt offensive, black people say it.

That sort ignorance about the power of words to hurt, just allows things to go unchecked. because it belittles the damage language can have.

The ability for society to stop using offensive language is very apparent for those of us that remember the 70s.

Language forms prejudgists and allows them to flourish.

DziezkoDisco Wed 20-Nov-13 07:59:27

Davejones I seriously hope you are taking the piss.

noblegiraffe Wed 20-Nov-13 08:03:42

Have you been in a secondary school recently, monty? I can't remember the last time I heard the expression 'four eyes'. Certainly no kids use dickhead in the classroom, and on the rare occasions I have picked up the use of 'spaz', the kids have been describing themselves when they've been clumsy and have been completely unaware of its origins, so are not attacking a minority.

'That's so gay' on the other had is used casually all the time, even to me as a teacher. It doesn't register on their list of words that might cause offence, and yet it is causing offence, hurt and upset. To the teenager in my class who is suspecting that they might be gay, it will make a difference to hear teachers say 'don't use gay as an insult, it makes you look like you think there's something wrong with being gay'. And if teachers keep picking up on it, it will disappear from casual usage in classrooms as it registers on that list of unsuitable words.
That's a start.

Davejones Wed 20-Nov-13 08:14:51

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mimmum Wed 20-Nov-13 09:09:09

Davejones you just can't be for real.

Davejones Wed 20-Nov-13 09:14:40

mimmum - "can't be for real" - why not? Do I not speak logically and factually? Do you rely upon reason and empiricism to debate or do you instead prefer emotion and base your arguments upon emotion?

Davejones Wed 20-Nov-13 09:23:10

See

http://www.bnp.org.uk/news/national/ethical-banking-co-op

noblegiraffe Wed 20-Nov-13 09:26:03

Homosexual acts are a dead end and should be discouraged

If you are talking logically and factually, ( hmm ) then how can you support this? Given the global population explosion, scarcity of housing in the UK, worries about running out of fuel etc, how can you support discouraging sex acts that don't end in reproduction (ignoring the fact that many gay couples manage to have children anyway).
And wouldn't it be a great way to tackle the problem of teen pregnancy? Turning them all gay by mentioning homosexuality?

Why is it always that when sexuality is mentioned, homophobes start banging on about sex? And being gay isn't contagious, spread by words.

Lilka Wed 20-Nov-13 09:32:44

You don't speak logically, you speak absolute utter bullshit. Factual would be something like this - "being gay is natural and also children should feel safe in the classroom" (don't even try to debate that with me, being gay is both normal and natural within the basic dictionary definitions of those words)

Then you cap it off by linking to the BNP. Why the hell would I look at anything they have to say?? Although the link address says something about banking, I have no idea what that has to do with this campaign unless you're spamming, and I'm certainly not going to read it

Davejones Wed 20-Nov-13 09:34:31

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Lilka Wed 20-Nov-13 09:35:18

Penis-in-vagina sex with a condom is also a dead end. As is Penis-in-vagina sex with the pill. As is a man and a woman having oral sex. As is a man and a woman having anal sex.

Therefore, we must discourage all straight people from ever having anal or oral sex, and using contraception is unacceptable, because it's a reproductive 'dead end'

hmm

Lilka Wed 20-Nov-13 09:37:07

Also, heterosexual people who have been told they are completely infertile, must choose to live a celibate life. They are not able to 'reproduce' and so it's a 'dead end' and thus they must choose to not engage in dead end sexual acts

Davejones Wed 20-Nov-13 09:38:39

Lilka - steady on, girl - the BNP piece is about Musnet's campaign along with Stonewall, and talks of the contrast between the Coop bank's ethical stance and the hypocrisy of a homosexual, drug taking banker in charge of that ethical bank. Thought you would be interested in all aspects but.....

noblegiraffe Wed 20-Nov-13 09:39:14

Dave, you are stating opinion as fact. Are you religious by any chance?

Davejones Wed 20-Nov-13 09:39:21

Sorry - Mumsnet - a typo

Lilka Wed 20-Nov-13 09:41:50

You do not address me with the word 'girl'. You address me as 'Lilka'

I don't read the BNP at all, ever. End of that line of discussion

Davejones Wed 20-Nov-13 09:43:19

noblegiraffe - facts are based upon observation and empiricism, opinions are based upon emotion, I use the former. I'm not religious.

curlew Wed 20-Nov-13 09:45:06

*According to the Huffington Post, Stonewall’s campaign comes in response to research which shows that 99 per cent of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people hear phrases such as “that’s so gay” or “you’re so gay” in school.

The study, supported by online parent forum Mumsnet, revealed 84 per cent of young people feel distressed when they hear language of that nature.

Has the possibility ever crossed the minds of teachers and the Mumsnet brigade that it's the very thought of such unnatural activities as homosexuality and lesbianism that makes them feel “distressed” in the first place?

The Huff also report that “Posters, sent to schools across Britain, state clearly: “Gay. Let’s Get the Meaning Straight”” – yes, lets – “gay” means happy and jolly – there cannot be anything gay about being a homosexual.*

I read the BNP link so nobody else has to. Very entertaining. Shall we more on?

Lilka Wed 20-Nov-13 09:45:36

And now I am leaving the thread. I might come back if you decide to leave or get deleted Dave

Lilka Wed 20-Nov-13 09:46:55

Has the possibility ever crossed the minds of teachers and the Mumsnet brigade that it's the very thought of such unnatural activities as homosexuality and lesbianism that makes them feel “distressed” in the first place?

No because that's utter bollocks and not how kids think, except for a very small minority

Davejones Wed 20-Nov-13 09:49:26

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Davejones Wed 20-Nov-13 09:50:32

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noblegiraffe Wed 20-Nov-13 09:50:33

Not religious? Ah, it's just that your idea that sex should only lead to reproduction sounds like it comes from the Bible. Given that sex is so fun, I'm sure there are plenty out there who would disagree with you.

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 20-Nov-13 09:50:42

Neither homosexuality nor having sex for fun is unnatural.

^I can't believe that I actually had to tell someone this^confused

Davejones Wed 20-Nov-13 09:54:27

noblegiraffe - yes of course sex is "fun" because it is powered by Nature's need for our species to survive (a process homosexuality and lesbianism cannot gurantee). Trivialising such a necessity is, I'm afraid, all too typical of dysfunctional young people.

Willemdefoeismine Wed 20-Nov-13 09:54:58

I often find my 12 year old DS using this type of terminology and we always pull him up on it. But I don't think he or his friends intend to use it in a homophobic way, although by association it comes across that way. I would say for him it's interchangeable with 'random'.

I would like to think that in the past twenty to thirty years we'd moved well beyond the use of such unacceptable language. The DCs definitely don't hear it from us!

noblegiraffe Wed 20-Nov-13 09:58:19

Dave, our species has managed to survive quite well with people having sex for fun and procreation. I really don't think you need to worry there.

Anyway, it's good to know that this campaign has pissed off the BNP. Another reason to wholeheartedly support it!

curlew Wed 20-Nov-13 09:58:20

Le's not engage with davejones- he's taking the piss.

Davejones Wed 20-Nov-13 10:05:25

noblegiraffe - why would annoying the BNP be good? What have you got against the BNP?

thinks davejones is a computer generated troll

Because surely no one is quite so obtuse and bigoted in real life. Sadly, I know that's not true.

curlew Wed 20-Nov-13 10:08:09

Don't engage.......

Davejones Wed 20-Nov-13 10:09:54

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Davejones Wed 20-Nov-13 10:11:05

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SirChenjin Wed 20-Nov-13 10:11:15

No evidence of any reason from you Daveyboy. Men!!

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 20-Nov-13 10:39:57

Dave, I completely uphold your right to believe that sexuality should be kept private. However I and many others believe differently, based on studies which show the benefits of being open and the testimonies of people for whom this secrecy and shame has been damaging.

I am delighted that this campaign is happening. I think it will provide real benefits based on similar campaigns in the past. Yay for The Mumsnet and Stonewall campaign.grin

Davejones Wed 20-Nov-13 11:10:05

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DioneTheDiabolist Wed 20-Nov-13 11:14:17

Dave, I'm sorry you feel that secrecy and shame are natural.sad.

SirChenjin Wed 20-Nov-13 11:18:48

Nope - still no reason there Davey

TheSilveryPussycat Wed 20-Nov-13 11:19:47

This thread has de-railed somewhat, hasn't it?

I respect all those who feel offence, and having read and considered the thread, will challenge if I hear the word "gay" used to mean "pathetic", by asking the user to elaborate what he/she means, and checking as best I can that they do not think homosexuals are pathetic.

Love, peace, brew

noblegiraffe Wed 20-Nov-13 11:25:07

Silvery, why not advise them that if they don't want to sound like they think homosexuals are pathetic that they choose a different word? After all, if they aren't homophobic, they shouldn't have a problem with that.

noblegiraffe Wed 20-Nov-13 11:26:41

I'm thinking of taking my hard wired instinct to keep eating confidential to a cafe for lunch.

TheSilveryPussycat Wed 20-Nov-13 11:28:47

I was hoping they would draw that conclusion themselves noble, will spell it out if they don't.

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 20-Nov-13 11:34:18

Glad you found the thread helped you understand Silvery.grin

noblegiraffe Wed 20-Nov-13 11:59:55

Excellent, silvery flowers

TheSilveryPussycat Wed 20-Nov-13 12:02:19

As an aside, I am old enough that in my pychology degree we came across the Introversion/extroversion questionnaire in its original form. One of the questions asked if the subject "liked gay parties." So have seen gay in all its incarnations.

MiniMonty Thu 21-Nov-13 02:53:11

I tell you what, having worked in schools and with young people for a long old time I would seriously question the numbers on the posters...

I'd like to know how anyone could gather and question a statistically significant number of school age children who were either
1) prepared to admit they were gay
or
2) be anywhere near sure they were gay.

and therefore able to give an honest and accurate response to the questioner who might put together those (ludicrous) statistics which are going to appear on the posters.

They are, after all, SCHOOL AGE KIDS.
If they are of an age to think and/or talk in any sensible way about sex they are in puberty.
Can anything this group offers be looked on as reliable data ?
As any parent of a child going through puberty knows - of course it can't.

So where EXACTLY do these "98%" figures come from ?

This is a NONSENCE is is very likely to be counter productive.

CuntyBunty Thu 21-Nov-13 07:14:16

Well, if you worked in a school MiniMonty, you definitely weren't a teacher, thank fuck grin. It's "nonsense" not NONSENCE. Were you the janitor with the Daily Mail rolled up in the pocket of your overalls?

Your point about children being unsure of their sexuality is moot, really. There will be a few, who know that they are gay in every school. So when another child (as uninformed/unfeeling as you are) says "that's so gay...", the connotation is that gay=crap because the word has been used to describe something negatively. At the tender age of 13, 14, 15, 16... that's going to hurt sad. Does the odd one, even if to you, they are statistically insignificant, not matter?

To Davejones; Teenage girls should practice the piano, not safe sex. WTF? What about the boys? Who's going to sleep with them, if the teenage girls don't? Should the boys maybe practice the flute then?

TheRealYellowWiggle Thu 21-Nov-13 09:00:14

I knew who I fancied long before I knew anything about sex.
It is often quite obvious to teachers (even in primary schools) which students are going to be gay as adults.

DioneTheDiabolist Thu 21-Nov-13 09:54:04

DS and I had our first "sex talk" last week. It was very sensible. He is six.shock

I knew a friend's brother was gay when I was about 7 years old and he was 5, (we all did, him included) but at the time none of us actually knew why gay was. Most gay adults will tell you they knew as children.

curlew Thu 21-Nov-13 12:22:24

If a child of mine reached year 2 at the very latest without knowing about sex, where babies come from accurately and that men can love men and women love women, I would think I had failed somewhere.

LurcioLovesFrankie Thu 21-Nov-13 13:55:09

Can I point out that not every straight person was a raging homophobe even in the days before homosexuality was illegal. My mum used to tell a wonderful story of the police arriving at the flat she had as a young teacher in Edinburgh in the 1950s. They wanted to ask about the man in the flat upstairs. Did he, they asked, have single men coming to visit him. My mum (who knew damn fine what they were up to), in her best "Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" voice, pointed out that she frequently had single men friends come to visit her, and she hoped they weren't going to suggest that anything untoward was going on in her flat. (The man upstairs was gay, my mum knew this, but like any sane, decent person she couldn't see why this should be anyone else's business).

Cheering your Mum Lurcio - she sounds great!

LurcioLovesFrankie Thu 21-Nov-13 17:10:18

Sorry that should have read "before homosexuality was legal", of course! D'oh.

elskovs Thu 21-Nov-13 18:00:06

Ive read the thread and although I do agree with not using the word gay as an insult, I am still uncomfortable about introducing my children to the idea of homosexuality at such a young age, so Im not sure Id support the idea of Stonewall at their primary.

As a mother I will still love them if they are gay, but to be absolutely honest, I hope that they wont be.

To whoever said my opinion is the most disgusting thing they've ever read in their lives... REALLY?! shock Ive just this week been told to choke on cock online. You must be rather new to the internet

DioneTheDiabolist Thu 21-Nov-13 20:16:02

Elskovs, the first time your DCs will hear the word gay is more likely to be the insult than as a reference to homosexuality (I know mine did). In the end, I don't think you can hide the fact that some people are homosexuals from them and if you are not the person to tell them about it and you don't allow teachers to tell them, someone in the playground will.shock

I urge you to do something to overcome your prejudice (reading biographies can be good for this) so that you can speak comfortably to them about this.

curlew Thu 21-Nov-13 20:55:32

"I am still uncomfortable about introducing my children to the idea of homosexuality at such a young age"

Can you explain why?

TiggyD Thu 21-Nov-13 21:16:11

One of the 'issues' of homosexuality is that some people think it's all sex, sex, sex. If a child asks about the man moving in with Auntie Claire you would say they love each other and want to be together. You first stop isn't explaining the different ways he's going to poke his winkie into her.Teaching children about gay people doesn't have to involve what George Michael does in public toilets. It's about teaching them that 2 people of the same sex can be in love.

So true Tiggy - I think that is right at the heart of things.
And agree with Dione too that hearing people's life stories, either personally or on paper/online will be the most likely thing to change anyone's perceptions and foster tolerance and understanding - and realising that everyone is the same in so many ways - we all just want to love and be loved and to share our lives with others.

Wigeon Fri 22-Nov-13 14:33:24

elskov - your idea that you want to protect children from knowing about homosexuality when they are young is sustainable, as long as they never meet or know anyone who is gay. In my family, since my cousin is in a civil partnership with a baby, it would be impossible to not introduce them to the concept that some men love men, and some women love women, and they can even bring up babies. My 2 year old knows this since it's blatantly obvious when we see my cousin and her partner! So it's hardly a case of me deciding when it's 'appropriate' to introduce them to the idea.

Your child might in future have a gay teacher, who happens to mention their partner in a way in which it's clear that that teacher is the same gender - the child could even be as young as Reception-aged shock!

There is nothing inappropriate for a young child about the simple concept of two people loving each other. As others have said, you no more have to go into the mechanics of sex than you would if your child met your sister's new boyfriend. I haven't even said (to my 2 or 5 year old) that there's a term (or rather, several terms!) for two people of the same gender loving each other as it just doesn't seem very relevant to them at this point.

samned Sun 20-Jul-14 00:06:57

Is it homophobic if a boyfriend goes on holiday with his child and leaves me behind and they have a partnership marriage doesn't inform them of the address they are living at or their phone number and to beat it all they don't tell me when they are going!! Is that fair

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