Study: Phrase 'That's So Gay' Damages Self-Esteem


Study: Phrase 'That's So Gay' Damages Self-Esteem [EXPERT]
One expert's plea to use language more carefully.

In a study conducted at the University of Michigan, lead author Michael Woodford found that the phrase "that's so gay" negatively affected gay, lesbian and bisexual students between the ages of 18 to 25 — contributing to feelings of isolation, headaches, poor appetite and eating problems.

The most important attribute that a person can possess is a healthy, positive sense of self — a sense that one is worthwhile, lovable, valued, respected, competent, powerful and safe. When an individual feels good about himself, he is very likely to be happy, to make other people happy and to achieve success.


People who have a negative sense of self will be sad and angry at themselves and will unconsciously engage in self-destructive acts to punish themselves for their "badness."

There are many strands that unite to form a positive self-image. One of the most critical ones is the messages that children and adolescents are given by parents and by society. Messages can be words and or deeds. Both have long term consequences. 7 Tips To Boost Kids' Confidence Before School Starts

A week ago, a colleague of mine was visiting her four-year-old grandson. Delighted by his clever observations at what they were seeing, she said to him, "You are a wonderful boy." "No, I'm not," he said. "What do you mea?," she asked. "Daddy says he doesn't like me." Love & Discipline: 5 Tips For Fathers

In a moment of anger, his father misspoke, but it wasn't lost on the boy. It was taken in, registered, and this special, clever, beautiful little boy was questioning his worth.

Adolescents are very insecure, confused and unsure of who they are. The outside world — especially their peers — influences greatly how they regard themselves. Gay adolescents often already feel shamed, wrong, bad, abnormal and unaccepted.

Any phrase like "that's so gay," which enhances their sense of being outside what's "good" and acceptable and "right," fosters a negative self-esteem that can easily lead to long-term depression and addiction, and it can certainly be classified as emotional abuse. 10 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Spank Your Kids

Language has the power to hurt and diminish and also the power to elevate and enhance. Let us agree to use it for good. 

More love advice from YourTango:

Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Miriam Kove


Miriam Kove

Visit my website.

Location: New York, NY
Credentials: BCD, LCSW, MS, MSW
Other Articles/News by Miriam Kove:

An Unconscious Preference


Several weeks ago I went to visit some friends who have two delightful children, a five year old boy and a three year old girl. As we were playing and laughing and creating fun, it became very clear to me how much the Mom favored the little girl. She was responded to immediately while the boy had to call the Mom three or four times before he was heard. At ... Read more

Applause! Applause!


Compliments and positive feedback are food for the soul and food for the psyche. As we need regular meals of good food to fuel our bodies and give us the energy we need to make a good life so we need appreciation and applause to fuel our psyche and produce the positive self-esteem we need for an emotionally healthy life. In too many homes, parents are ... Read more

Negative Feelings Are Normal


They sat around the dining room table, playing Candyland--the mother, the grandmother, the 4 ½ year old boy and his 2 ½ year old sister. There was laughter and enthusiasm and good will. Then the little sister had had enough of being sedentary and attentive. She scooped up all the pieces, shoveled them over to herself and yelled, “All ... Read more

See More

My Videos
Most Popular