Will a public service announcement help make accepting homosexuality more OK among kids? Or is that idea. . . totally gay?
Gawker has posted about a non-profit Ad Council PSA, which asks teens to think twice about flinging about the word "gay" as an all-purpose adjective. Made to look like a page from a dictionary, the PSA says:
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gay - 1. there was once a time when all "gay" meant was "happy." then it meant "homosexual." now, people are saying "that's so gay" to mean dumb and stupid. which is pretty insulting to gay people (and we don't mean the "happy" people.) 2. so please, knock it off. 3. go to ThinkB4YouSpeak.com
PSAs are nice and all, but the hardass in me thinks there's got to be some scaremongering, pants-wetting, don't-you-dare-use-that-word force behind the message. The onus is on adults, here, not just children. Using "gay" as an insult should be a really bad thing to do. But nothing is going to stop children from learning that its okay to bully with the words "gay," "fag," "homo," "queer," etc. until teachers, coaches and parents crack down and punish kids who do it. That was the most frustrating thing that I remember from high school: everyone would have been upset if racial epithets were used, but teachers largely ignored students antagonizing each other about sexual orientation.
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What's so tricky, though, is that schools and parents shouldn't couch this situation in a way that implies "to be gay is an unspeakably bad thing, so you should never say the word 'gay,' ever." Of course, using "gay" as an insult is clearly disrespectful, but I could easily see how kids could make the leap to believe the entire subject is taboo—and that will make youngsters questioning their sexuality feel even more in the closet.
Still, I am really glad to see this PSA. Let's see how far it gets before the so-called "family values" groups eviscerate it.