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02/14/2005

Gay School Daze

GayslursGay students here and abroad are under attack, but thankfully many of them are standing up for themselves. Here's some of the recent student-related brouhaha.

Last week I posted about the students trying to start a gay-straight alliance at White County High School in Georgia. Kerry Pacer, the student struggling to start the club, endured a "day of hell" Friday at the ironically named "Sweetheart Prom" where she was jeered by a packed school gymnasium and was told later when she went to her locker room for gym class, "You can't change in here. You're a lesbian."

Meanwhile, in Victorville, California, where they are allowed to have a gay-straight alliance, 18 students participated in mock gay weddings while approximately 40 parents, students, and community members stood in the rain and protested.

In Spokane, a suspicious change of venue for a gay high school Valentine's dance causes sponsors to ask if conservative parents are creating a hostile environment for gay and lesbian students there.

Over the next month, HarperCollins will be distributing 200,000 postcards promoting a gay romance book called Boy Meets Boy to 950 schools in the UK. Christians are outraged, naturally, calling the marketing campaign "disgusting" and warning that it could lead to bullying of gay students (like this isn't happening already!) and promotion of homosexuality. The book's author, David Levithan, said, "I am a strong believer in the power of reading and literature but I don’t think there is a single child who has been turned gay by a book."

The "It Should Have Been a Week" Dept.: In Massachusetts, a student was suspended for one day for saying a teacher was being gay. "He said he was using 'gay' as a synonym for 'stupid' or 'lame,' and was not implying anything about the teacher's sexuality. He and his friends often use the word in that context, he said." The student didn't seem to see anything wrong with using the word that way and was "nerved out about it all week."

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Comments

  1. Re: Suspension in Mass. for using "gay" as a pejorative. This is a fairly interesting case. I'm not sure how "with it" my fellow gay men are, but "gay" is used this way very commonly, from middle school on through college. I am an openly gay college student, and even some of my friends who know that I am gay will use it - right in front of me! All they mean to say is, "that's so dumb" or "don't be stupid." Somehow, "gay" became the substitute. Most people who use it in all honesty don't think that they are attacking gay people. But as a closeted high school kid, it hurt to hear it day in and day out.

    A suspension is not the way to fix this problem. The example in Massachusetts seems like a case of an out-of-touch and angry administrator meeting a naive kid who, like everyone else, uses the current slang without thinking of its implications.

    Posted by: Jake | Feb 15, 2005 2:28:51 AM


  2. Thats gay.

    Posted by: Michael | Feb 15, 2005 1:12:22 PM


  3. I was sitting with my young nephews and niece as they watched TV after school one day. Something romantic happened between 2 characters in the Japanese animation show. The 8-year-old says, "That's sooo gay!" He's totally clueless about orientation issues. But I remarked laughing to my mother, "Another generation of homophobes on the rise." I wonder if we aren't sending a message to kids, when we don't correct them on how they use language, even at an early age. For instance we wouldn't allow a child to call someone a wop or a kike, even if all they meant was that it means dumb or stupid.

    Posted by: Sean | Mar 9, 2005 2:49:23 PM


  4. Definitely correct kids when they use "gay" as a pejorative. As many feminist scholars have written, language is power. Why is the male pronoun considered universal? Why is calling someone a "pussy" or telling them to "act like a man" a euphemism for weakness? Clearly using "gay" as an analogy for "stupid and dumb" follows this same line of logic. Why the oppressors hate "political correctness:" because making society aware of the power imbalance threatens their control.

    Posted by: Andrew Roth | Mar 22, 2005 12:16:09 PM


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