“That’s so gay”

Today I had my first opportunity to address the term “gay” with my students. I walked by a girl telling another boy “you’ve got to stop using that term.” He is not your typical troublemaker – he is good at listening and participates fully in class. The timing is perfect – I think to myself. It just so happened that there was an Empathy workshop planned for this afternoon. So I addressed it right away and told him it is not appropriate to use the term in a negative way.

Two hours later, sitting in a circle outside on the grass, under the sun – I say, “So, is the term ‘gay’ a bad word?” Some said yes, some said no. I then proceeded to explain the meaning of “gay” and how it has been taken from its original meaning “happy” to “being homosexual”. I then compared using “gay” in a negative light to saying “that’s so Chinese” or “that’s so Filipino” (in an effort to appeal to the students own identity). And how you wouldn’t not use that term in a negative way unless you looked down on gay people, chinese people, or Filipino people. I think some of them understood it.

Today is also the day President Obama voiced his support for gay marriage. Motivated by political reasons or not – his account and rationale moving and inspiring. He spoke about his view and how it had evolved, and reasons for his hesitation in the past. In particular, he did not want his daughters to look down on their schools friends just because they came from homosexual families. I, too, do not want my students to look down on others due to differences.

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