Pop singer Will Young is leading a new campaign by UK LGBT rights group Stonewall to tackle what it calls “endemic levels of homophobic language” in British schools.
The campaign comes in response to research showing that 99% of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people hear phrases such as ‘that’s so gay’ or ‘you’re so gay’ in school and that 84% say that they’re distressed when they hear this homophobic language.
Polling also shows that 68 per cent of parents don’t know if their children’s school has policies to tackle homophobic language.
The hard-hitting new campaign, fronted by the openly gay Young, uses new posters and guidance to address the misuse of the word gay.
Posters, sent to schools across Britain, state clearly: “Gay. Let’s get over it” and “Gay. Let’s get the meaning straight”. The posters are accompanied by new guidance for both pupils and teachers to enable them to challenge the derogatory use of the word gay.
“The word ‘gay’ is currently used as one of the worst insults by young people of all ages in Britain’s schools,” said Young. “It’s clear from the shocking levels of self-harm and suicide among gay young people that we’re failing an entire generation. It’s time to take a stand and put a stop to this deeply damaging use of homophobic language.”
Stonewall’s Deputy Chief Executive Ruth Hunt added: “We know that many people who casually use the term ‘that’s so gay’ don’t intentionally mean to be offensive. But the reality is that their words cause hurt and distress.
“That’s why we’re launching this flagship campaign so teachers and parents have the resources to tackle the problem head on. We want every young person, teacher and parent in Britain to challenge this language and change the culture of our schools.”
Stonewall is distributing copies of the new posters and guidance to 2,500 secondary schools – half of all secondary schools in Britain.