Gay. Let's Get Over It: key findings
Mumsnet has teamed up with Stonewall on a campaign launched today fronted by Will Young to tackle the endemic levels of homophobic language in schools across Britain.
'Gay. Let's Get Over It' comes in response to research carried out by Stonewall showing that 99% of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people hear phrases such as "that's so gay" or "you're so gay" in school.
Unsurprisingly, 84% of these are distressed when they hear this homophobic language.
We also carried out our own survey, to find out how schools deal with homophobic language.
Key findings include:
- 68% of parents don't know if their children's school has policies to tackle homophobic language.
- Almost three quarters (71%) of people didn't know whether the unacceptability of homophobic language had been discussed in lessons or assembly.
- More than half (56%) of parents have heard either their own or someone else's child use homophobic language.
The hard-hitting campaign uses new posters and guidance to address the misuse of the word gay. Posters, sent to schools across Britain, state clearly: Gay. Let’s Get the Meaning Straight. The posters are accompanied by new guidance for pupils and teachers to enable them to challenge the derogatory use of the word gay.
Will Young, who is fronting the campaign, says: "The word 'gay' is currently used as one of the worst insults by young people of all ages in Britain's schools. It's clear from the shocking levels of self-harm and suicide among gay young people that we're failing an entire generation. It’s time to take a stand and put a stop to this deeply damaging use of homophobic language."
Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts says: "We should all be challenging our children's use of homophobic language and simply shouldn't tolerate phrases like 'that's so gay', which are in everyday use in school playgrounds. Parents, working with schools, really can stamp out this type of language, which is demeaning, hurtful and offensive to so many."
Stonewall's deputy chief executive Ruth Hunt says: "We know many people who casually use the term 'that's so gay' don't intentionally mean to be offensive. But the reality is their words cause offence and distress. That's why we're launching this campaign; so teachers and parents have the resources to tackle the problem head on. We want every young person, teacher and parent in Britain to challenge this language and change the culture of our schools."
What Mumsnetters had to say
- "Homophobic language is something I always pick people up on and I'm largely dismissed as being too PC or oversensitive."
- "My DD was fobbed off last week when she went to complain to the deputy head at her primary school about homophobic bullying in the playground."
- "Schools should always deal with homophobic language. What about kids struggling with issues surrounding their sexuality?"
- "The use of 'gay' as an insult is casual homophobia and it should not go unchallenged."
Stonewall is distributing copies of the new posters and guidance to 2,500 secondary schools - half of all secondary schools in Britain.
Mumsnet and Stonewall are also asking individuals to get involved by writing to or tweeting their local schools, as well as challenging their own children's use of homophobic language.