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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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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

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

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

Cheering your Mum Lurcio - she sounds great!

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).

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.

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.

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.

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?

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
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.

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.

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

Excellent, silvery flowers

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

Glad you found the thread helped you understand Silvery.grin

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.

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.

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.

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

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

Nope - still no reason there Davey

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

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

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

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