The pejorative slang phrase “that’s so gay” negatively impacts gay students who hear the phrase used at school, according to a new study .
“That’s so gay” is a phrase sometimes used to express that something is uncool or otherwise undesirable. Through initiatives like Think B4 You Speak , organizations like the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network and Ad Council have made it a priority to educate students about why “gay” shouldn’t be used as a negative slang word, targeting phrases like “that’s so gay” and others.
Now, a recent study shows that in spite of these efforts, “that’s so gay” is still used frequently on college campuses. The study, published in the Journal of American College Health , asked 114 gay, lesbian and bisexual students between the ages of 18 and 25 how often they heard the phrase and how it affected them personally.
According to CBS , almost every participant in the survey had heard “that’s so gay” around campus at least once in the last 12 months. Roughly half the students said they’d heard it 10 times during the year, and only 14 respondents had never heard the phrase used at all.
Of those students who did hear “that’s so gay” around campus frequently, they reported greater feelings of isolation as well as more headaches and eating problems, as compared with LGB students who didn’t hear the phrase.
“Given the nature of gay-lesbian-bisexual stigma, sexual minority students could already perceive themselves to be excluded on campus and hearing ‘that’s so gay’ may elevate such perceptions,” said Michael Woodford, an assistant professor of social work and the study’s lead author, in a statement . “‘That’s so gay’ conveys that there is something wrong with being gay. And, hearing such messages about one’s self can cause stress, which can manifest in headaches and other health concerns.”
GLSEN’s campaign, Think B4 You Speak , encourages students to “say something original” instead of using phrases that are hurtful to LGBT students. The group also helps to organize school gay-straight-alliance organizations and offers other resources for gay students to make their schools safer and more welcoming places.
“Policies and educational programs are needed to help students, staff and faculty to understand that such language can be harmful to gay students,” Woodward said . “Hopefully, these initiatives will help to eliminate the phrase from campuses.”
Camille Beredjick is a journalism student at Northwestern University and the founder and sole contributor ofGayWrites.org, a daily LGBT news blog.