‘That’s so gay’ is a phrase many teens use on a regular basis. This phrase, while seemingly innocuous, is now being blamed for long-term effects on the self-esteem, mental well-being, and overall functioning of gay and lesbian teens. Used as a phrase to denote that something is negative, stupid or insignificant, many teens fail to realize the damage such a loaded phrase can cause to a GLBTQ teen.
In a new study, researchers concluded that their sample of participants, gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals ages 18-25, who experienced hearing this phrase frequently were affected in a variety of areas of their lives.
Specifically speaking, the individuals on the receiving end of ‘that’s so gay’ often found themselves feeling inadequate, suffering from poor appetite, and a myriad of other side effects. In their abstract, publishers of the study detailed their conclusions:
“College professionals and student leaders must acknowledge that the phrase is a form of heterosexist harassment. As such, policies addressing diversity and harassment should address students’ use of this phrase, aiming to reduce its use. Additionally, colleges and universities should develop practices that counteract poorer well-being associated with hearing the phrase.”
In other words, educators, role models, and professionals in the community need to step up and take matters into their own hands in an effort to eliminate this phrase from popular culture. Teens are impressionable.
Vulnerable teens such as those in the GLBTQ community who are often stigmatized and isolated because of their sexuality are at an even greater risk for self-harm or bullying with such phrases being commonly accepted in society. Steps need to be taken to ensure GLBTQ teens are made to feel safe, regardless of their environment, but especially in schools and places where they can turn for support.
Many hope that since the presidential elections are nearing, there may be some improvement for the lives of GLBTQ community members. Changes in terms of equal rights, not just in terms of equal marriage rights, but overall, may give gay and lesbian individuals the respect they need to fight against hurtful phrases such as ‘that’s so gay’.
Sources: The Advocate, TandFonline.com, CBS Local (Detroit Edition)
Have you been on the receiving end of the phrase ‘that’s so gay’? How did it make you feel? Or are you guilty of using this hurtful phrase? What are your thoughts on these research findings? Leave a comment or connect on Facebook today.