When I taught, my classroom was filled with middle school aged children. For some people, that raises the hair on your neck and you just audibly gagged and now you are thinking about nominating me for sainthood. I know middle school kids aren't for everyone but I LOVE that age group. I think it has something to do with me being incredibly awkward; I tend to fit right in.
One thing I can't stand about this group is the name-calling. I know little kids call names. I mean, just the other day my son called me, "Poo poo butt." Ouch. In middle school (and sadly, a bit younger) the names are getting meaner. Bitch. Slut. Dyke. Lesbo.
Now I'm sure all of us would give our kids a good talking to if they said one of those words. But how many parents do you see challenging their kids not to say, "that's so gay!"? Not many. Right now, "gay" and "that's so gay" are terms used synonymously with "lame" and "stupid." Regardless of what the term is a stand in for, it is a heterosexist slur--on par with calling women "bitches," the differently abled "retarded," and African Americans "the N word".
Is this harmless? No! According to GLSEN school atmospheres are filled with anti-gay harassment and 90% of students hear "gay" used in a derogatory manner. So even though gay is NOT a synonym for stupid, lame, awful, ugly ... the word is used. What then is a student who is gay supposed to think? That s/he is stupid, awful, lame, or ugly? (Want more? Read this article.)
"That's so gay" might sound harmless but for the student who is a sexual minority (or has a family member or friend who is) it is a hurtful phrase. Sure it sounds "nicer" that dyke, fag, lesbo, and homo but the fact remains--you are calling a minority group stupid. It's time to stop.
What I think is that the common phrase "that's so gay" is NOT okay. Whenever I hear "that's so gay" I think, "that's so kid whose parents didn't love him/her enough to teach him/her to be respectful."
I love participating in Shell's PYHO on Wednesdays!