Advice & Education

Kids and gay slurs. What are they saying? What do they really mean?

The word gay is used by both genders to mean “stupid”. Anything can be gay. A video game can be gay. A car can be gay. But only a boy can be a fag.

Does that get your attention?

This is what C.J. Pascoe – author of Dude You’re a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School – found during her 18-month observation in a California high school.

She researched the high school students in a variety of settings and interviewed 50 students. And writes that “gay” and “fag” mean very different things – both with negative connotations.

OregonLive.com profiles the researcher – who says the use of the slurs starts around sixth grade. The insults are typically used by straight boys in a joking manner to establish masculinity – not necessarily as a homophobic gesture.

One boy told Pasco: “If you’re trying to turn a wrench the wrong way, you’re a fag. Even if a piece of meat drops out of your sandwich – dude, you’re a fag.” And one boy told Pascoe that he would never use the slur against someone who is gay “because that’s just mean.”

On a related note, OregonLive.com reports: “Of 30 school shootings since 1982 that were considered random, more than 80 percent were done by boys who had endured serious gay-baiting and bullying, although there was no evidence that any of the shooters were gay, according to Michael Kimmel, a sociology professor with the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

“Appearance or body size is the most commonly cited reason for frequent harassment at school, with sexual orientation following close behind, according to a 2005 national survey sponsored by the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network.”

And a survey done in 2005 found that nearly 9 out of 10 high schoolers reported often hearing remarks like “You’re so gay” – with the intended meaning of stupid.

4 thoughts on “Kids and gay slurs. What are they saying? What do they really mean?

  • Anonymous

    I have seen/experienced “fag” applied to females as well in the same sense as “gay.” It definitely threw me off the first few times I heard it, but I think it is spreading as another was to say “lame” or “stupid.”

  • Anonymous

    Let’s hope they grow out of it.

  • summersmom

    …high school kids are becoming more liberal towards lesbian and gay rights, so the terms have changed. For them, calling someone a fag has nothing to do with morality – it’s just an insult like “you’re so retarded”. In some weird way I see that as progress. In some very weird way…

  • Anonymous

    The usage and controversy over gay slurs only shows that our nation is losing its morals as the days go by…of course it gets worse when we sacrifice our morals for self gain, but that is irrelevant. I myself am a High school student, and i am conducting a survey on gay slurs. i have found that students are becoming more liberal to gay rights, and although they use the slurs to express dislike of something, they do not mean to use them to hurt homosexuals, but usually they uphold homosexual rights. I just thought that was interesting.

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