South Australian high school students have pledged to eradicate the term “that’s so gay” from their schools as part of an anti-homophobia drive.
Students at Wirreanda High School and Unley High School in Adelaide used Wear It Purple Day for LGBTI youth last week to start the campaign against the derogatory comment.
Managing director of NSW LGBTI youth organisation Twenty10, Rebecca Reynolds, said it was encouraging to see the push coming from the students themselves.
“I think quite often when you are in a school setting you think that you haven’t got any reach with what you’re doing and that the number of people who are hearing and seeing what you are doing is not that great,” Reynolds told the Star Observer.
“I think that’s why it’s important to have initiatives that are led by young people but that are supported by teachers and are recognised by the community.”
Reynolds said the Adelaide schools should serve as a national example.
“Wouldn’t it be great if every school had to participate as a way to address diversity and call people on discrimination,” she said.
“We need more support for teachers, support for young people so these are not just isolated pop up initiatives.”
Openly gay South Australian Youth and Social Inclusion Minister Ian Hunter personally expressed his gratitude to the students and teachers at Wirreanda High School, and offered his support to the cause.
“I just wanted to come down and say how proud I am of you all for doing this, it’s just fantastic,” Hunter said during an appearance at the school last week.
“You set it all up yourselves and it’s just so impressive and I wanted to say a huge thank you.
“If I had kids like you supporting a kid like me when I was at school, my life would have been a lot easier.”
Hunter said the move was an impressive step towards eradicating homophobia in schools.
“It’s just so encouraging to see such young people in our community taking affirmative action to end discrimination and making a definite difference in our community. They should be so proud of themselves,” he said.
A study published last month in the Journal of American College Health found that LGBTI students who heard the phrase “that’s so gay” were more likely to feel isolated and experience headaches, poor appetite and eating problems.
The study involved 114 LGBTI students aged 18-25 with almost all saying they had heard the phrase in the last 12 months and almost half saying they had heard it at least 10 times or more in the last 12 months.
University of Michigan professor and study author Michael Woodford said that while such comments were subtle, they carried menacing and hostile overtones that took a toll.
“‘That’s so gay’ conveys that there is something wrong with being gay,” Woodford said.
“Hearing such messages about one’s self can cause stress, which can manifest in headaches and other health concerns.”