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GLSEN, Ad Council launch ad campaign to counter 'So Gay' taunt

by PageOneQ

The non-profit Ad Council, for the first time since its inception in 1942, is taking on an issue of interest to the LGBT community, working in conjunction with GLSEN, to combat anti-gay language in an effort to create a more welcoming environment for all students in schools.

"Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) teens experience homophobic remarks and harassment throughout the school day, creating an atmosphere where they feel disrespected, unwanted and unsafe," explains. "Homophobic remarks such as "that's so gay" are the most commonly heard; these slurs are often unintentional and a common part of teens' vernacular. Most do not recognize the consequences, but the casual use of this language often carries over into more overt harassment."

The campaign launched on Wednesday, releasing three thirty-second television spots featuring comedienne Wanda Sykes and actress Hilary Duff, along with print ads that encourage people using the words "gay," "faggot" and "dyke" in a derogatory or flippant manner to "knock it off."

Another example of the "So Gay" taunt being "flipped" was a print campaign run in the United Kingdom describing various American travel destinations as "so gay." Among the destinations was South Carolina. One of the posters, approved by the state's tourism authority, was later disavowed and ordered discontinued by Gov. Mark Sanford, who saw courting gay tourists in this campaign as using taxpayer money to further a social or political agenda.

GLSEN's 2007 National School Climate Survey reports that nine out of ten LGBT teenagers have been verbally harassed during the last school year. Almost half also said they were physically harassed.

Kevin Jennings, founder and executive director of GLSEN, told the New York Times that the campaign was "something I dreamed about for 10 years."

"If you follow hateful language, you eventually get hurtful behavior," Jennings said. "The chain of events begins with kids learning it's OK to disrespect people...this will be, by a million miles, the largest public education campaign on LGBT issues."

The video spots are embedded below. More information is available at


Originally published on Thursday October 9, 2008.

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