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Calvin just started at school, but this question could refer to any new social situation. He has a strong sense that people should not casually demean minority groups, for which I applaud him. Unfortunately, it has become common for teenagers to use the word 'gay' to mean 'pathetic, useless' referring to things ('These compasses are so gay') as well as people. Calvin hates this and picks people up on it.

 

Leaving aside how you feel about gay people, how do you think we should approach this? On the one hand, it's brilliant that he is standing up for what he believes in. On the other hand, he's in a new social situation that he can't escape for the next four years, so going in with (metaphorical) fists flying might not be wise.

 

In theory he doesn't care if people like him: he knows what is right. In practice he does want to have friends. I have no idea if there will be children who admire his stand, or whether he will be ostracised.

 

Thanks

 

Laura

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I've never been popular, so you'll need a lot of salt to go w/ what I say--

 

Being yourself is really the only way to get anywhere. If you grit your teeth, cross your fingers, & let people see you, the ones who like you really will. The ones who don't at least got a fair shake at liking the real you.

 

Otoh, pretending to be "cool" w/ something that's offensive or wrong will only gain you friends you don't really respect anyway at the cost of respecting yourself.

 

That said, he doesn't nec have to "go in w/ fists flying." I started experimenting w/ cussing in 6th g. One day, I looked up at a friend--the kind you know is better than you in every way--& I just asked her point blank, "You don't cuss, do you?" Nope. And I was done w/ it, & I've never forgotten her grace or class.

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I'm with Calvin. I hate that kids throw that word around. I want to get in their face and yell "Do you know that 'gay' means Happy?" My ds occasionally uses it, (usually after he has been around certain friends) and I always remind him not to. Deep down though, I think he would appreciate having a friend who would stand up to others about not using it. I bet somebody is just waiting for a friend like Calvin to help put up a united front against that sort of stuff. (((Laura and Calvin))) Good luck. This age is so tough.

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.

 

That said, he doesn't nec have to "go in w/ fists flying."

 

Wouldn't it be better for him to lie low for a few months, then start saying, "I really don't like it when you say that"? Right now there is no power behind his objection, because he has no status in the group.

 

He probably wouldn't agree to lie low anyway. We went to the civil partnership ceremony of some old friends of mine a few weeks ago. Calvin was very struck by stories he heard of early Gay marriage in Canada, with participants wearing bullet-proof vests.

 

Laura

Edited by Laura Corin
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Regarding this specific use of the word, I have never actually seen anyone use it to imply that said object is gay like a homosexual is bad/wrong/whatever. Like you said, the word used like that means "lame" or something like that, and I remember hearing it as far back as when I was in middle school. Most of the kids I have known recently to call things/people gay are also very gay friendly, and would never even realize that someone else would consider usage like that demeaning.

 

I remember when dd first heard someone use the word like this, it was her coach and she *freaked* because her gay uncle who lived with us was one of her favorite people. Gay uncle told her not to let words have such power and once she realized that in her coach's mind it had no connection to hatred, she just didnt let it bother her. As much. After a long while.

 

There are ALL KINDS of words like this that kids use and never even give it a second thought. They call each other b*tch or n-word or fatty all of the time and never give a thought to offending anyone.

 

PLEASE don't get me wrong, I am not condoning it at all, I'm just saying it is commonplace among the upper/middle class kids I deal with and I don't even know if they would understand why Calvin was bothered.

 

Of course, if he did tell them, maybe shared some stories he heard, then they would be enlightened?

 

 

OT, I am excited the kids started school already! I do hope that you update us occasionally! Also, every once in a while when the day here is rough, I imagine your little post office in the most beautiful green hills...:D

Edited by Ailaena
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Wouldn't it be better for him to lie low for a few months, then start saying, "I really don't like it when you say that"? Right now there is no power behind his objection, because he has no status in the group.

 

He probably wouldn't agree to lie low anyway. We went to the civil partnership ceremony of some old friends of mine a few weeks ago. Calvin was very struck by stories he heard of early Gay marriage in Canada, with all participants wearing bullet-proof vests.

 

Laura

 

Wow--it's very personal for him.

 

I guess...it depends on what you mean by "lie low."

 

Keeping silent about a social injustice is terrible, & that's what a passionate teen is likely to hear w/ the phrase "lie low."

 

Otoh...& this is gray...there are some social boundaries--it *is* rude to comment on other people's choices & habits. But there's a line somewhere...

 

My point about my friend was that she made an impact on me by what she *didn't* say.

 

Ultimately...I think at his age, it has to be up to him. You might give him a hypothetical what-if-it-were-you story, so he can see how he'll come across. Then he can decide how hard to push it.

 

Maybe?

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Wouldn't it be better for him to lie low for a few months, then start saying, "I really don't like it when you say that"?

I don't really see saying that as going in with fists flying.. of course, I have zero experience with teen boys in a school setting. A friend had trouble with his son here when he first started school (late middle school) and I believe said some really confrontative things; unfortunately for him the resulting animosity and trouble have continued - it's really hard to move beyond a first impression sometimes, and you can be stuck with the same group of people for years in a smaller school.

 

So when we're talking about "fists flying", do you mean he would calmly say he doesn't like something? Would he escalate (verbally) if they did?

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Regarding this specific use of the word, I have never actually seen anyone use it to imply that said object is gay like a homosexual is bad/wrong/whatever. Like you said, the word used like that means "lame" or something like that, and I remember hearing it as far back as when I was in middle school.

 

I found this article, which didn't help me reach a conclusion, but was an interesting discussion.

 

Laura

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I don't really see saying that as going in with fists flying.. of course, I have zero experience with teen boys in a school setting. A friend had trouble with his son here when he first started school (late middle school) and I believe said some really confrontative things; unfortunately for him the resulting animosity and trouble have continued - it's really hard to move beyond a first impression sometimes, and you can be stuck with the same group of people for years in a smaller school.

 

So when we're talking about "fists flying", do you mean he would calmly say he doesn't like something? Would he escalate (verbally) if they did?

 

I don't know if he would remain calm or get confrontational. The bolded part above is what concerns me.

 

Laura

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"Elinor agreed to it all, for she did not think he deserved the compliment of rational opposition." Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen

 

Hmmm... I walk away from a lot of discussions on this board, but there are some issues I can never walk away from, whatever the divine Jane says. Calvin too, it seems.

 

Laura

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Guest janainaz

There is a time to say something (maybe in defense of another person who is being attacked verbally or physically), but your son is probably not going to get the ear and attention of those kids in his school. Certain words have become part of the language and, more than likely, he's not going to change that. The word 'gay' has come to mean 'lame' or 'stupid' and is not a personal attack against 'gay' people. I would make sure he understands the difference. I would be very proud if my kids stood up for what is right in defense of another person, but to put themselves out there to change the lingo is a lost cause. They might set an example of intelligent and kind speaking, but most are not going to respond favorably to his calling them out and insinuating that they mean something by their words that they don't. I really would hate to see my kid go through four years of what that could potentially result in.

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I found this article, which didn't help me reach a conclusion, but was an interesting discussion.

 

Laura

 

 

Thank you for that, it was really interesting. Especially the further comments in the discussion. Really, just because the kids "dont mean it" doesnt exactly make it right. I remember when the Fairly Oddparents had their baby boy and named it Poof. I was SO appalled I never watched that show again (wanst that great anyways). Seriously, though, what??

 

I would side with you and consider telling him to lay low because you are right, he has no standing and his words will mean very little overall. However, I am the quintessential pessimistic. Then, after some time, he can voice his opinions and maybe more people will listen.

 

BUT, then I would essentially be telling him that it is OK to stand by and silently watch an injustice occur. What a conundrum. I am so not helpful. Of course, I do know that he is old enough and coherent enough to understand this issue objectively for a minute or two. Maybe if you just laid your thoughts straight on him? Let him see all sides of everything? Maybe let him casually ask a random kid if he's a homophobe?

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I think part of the problem is that for school boys who have been at school for years these phrases have become the natural way to talk. They don't think of the deeper meaning behind what they are saying as they have been using the phrases for so long.

 

Take "that is so cool" as an example. We certainly didn't say that as children and the first time I heard it I thought it was odd. I still don't like to hear my boys saying it because I don't think it is the correct way to speak. I personally would advise my son (and do) to speak correctly but don't pick other people up on the way they speak unless they are really close friends.

My eldest is like yours and the way he deals with it is just to ignore it or to raise it once and question the phrase but not to get sucked in to the crowd mentality and speak in the same way, he just thinks it is stupid. There are enough children in my son's class who do speak correctly and those are the ones he hangs around with.

Stephanie

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Yes, words quickly become part of the common parlance, especially amongst middle school boys, but I think ignoring the power of words does have a cost, however small. I have a boy of similar age who I know has deeply held principles about how people treat each other, but I also know it would be very hard for him to speak up in a setting of a lot of other kids, like a school. I know he has stayed quiet while one of his "friends" taunted his younger brother for being fat, and felt pretty bad afterwards.

 

I guess I identify with the silent, suffering outcasts of the world and I imagine how painful it would be for a middle school aged kid, coming to understand his\her own sexuality, and hearing it equated with being lame or useless. Don't thirteen year olds have enough to deal with already? So I'm not sure I have any advice for Laura, but I'd personally be reluctant to encourage my kids to pretend hurtful words are not hurtful.

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It may be worth talking about social position in a group, positions of leadership and how one can have a greater influence from a position of leadership to change the group.

 

The teenagers using the word gay are probably not thinking about gay people at all and a newcomer calling them out on this is probably not going to change their use of it and will be seen as criticism. Although he might not care about them liking him, he might care about the influence his words have, and people who are liked have more influence than those people that others feel indifferent to.

 

Once he has established friendships and has some credibility in the group, his raising the issue will have a much bigger impact than just calling it out immediately.

 

John Maxwell has written many good books on leadership and how it can be learned and working through a title like "The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, could be a good starting point for discussion.

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If this were my dc I would discuss with him his options in social situations and the possible consequences of those options and let him choose.

 

I think it's great that he thinks this is wrong and wants to stand up for it. Words have a lot of power and I don't think we should accept negative alternative uses. I do believe it has a negative impact on the community if the term describing the community is permitted to be used negatively. I work very part time with teens who are in an alternative setting and I try to correct this regularly. Gay, Jew and retard are all part of their banter. Since I have a son who has down syndrome, I cringe all the time at the use of retard, but I also respond to any similarly inappropriately used label.

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I remember when the Fairly Oddparents had their baby boy and named it Poof. I was SO appalled I never watched that show again (wanst that great anyways). Seriously, though, what??

 

 

They're fairy godparents who pop in and pop out and say "Poof!" with the wave of a magic wand when something appears or disappears. That's obviously what the name refers to, so I don't get why it's appalling. Context does matter. The word "fairy" itself can have a negative meaning, but I don't hear anyone calling for a ban on the use of the word altogether, no matter the context in which it's said.

 

As for "gay," I treat it as any other pejorative though I don't see any real difference between it and "stupid" or "lame"—both of which can be used to refer to people with low intelligence or are physically handicapped, respectively. Yet no one really thinks about those alternative meanings when they use them. I think the same is true of "gay" and even "retarded," so I do think it's interesting that those words are so highly offensive yet other similar words are not perceived that way. It's still not OK to call a person stupid, lame, gay, or make personal attacks, and I think that should be the focus when talking to teens about this topic.

 

Maybe your son could say, "Please don't use that term around me" or "I find that word offensive," which has a different effect than "You should stop saying that word!" or implying that other teens are homophobes or bigots for using the term.

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I think that your son should stand up for what he believes is right. Real friends know and respect our beliefs, even if they don't share them. Your son needn't be obnoxious about how he feels; a simple, "I'm not comfortable with people using the word 'gay' because it's a slur" should do the trick. Or he could ask his friends not to use the word "gay" around him. He doesn't have to be in "fighting mode" about it.

 

I think that, should he say nothing now for fear of being ostracized, he will come to be sorry for his silence later.

 

Tara

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I think that your son should stand up for what he believes is right. Real friends know and respect our beliefs, even if they don't share them. Your son needn't be obnoxious about how he feels; a simple, "I'm not comfortable with people using the word 'gay' because it's a slur" should do the trick. Or he could ask his friends not to use the word "gay" around him. He doesn't have to be in "fighting mode" about it.

 

I think that, should he say nothing now for fear of being ostracized, he will come to be sorry for his silence later.

 

Tara

 

:iagree:

Perhaps your conversation can be more about how to bring the subject up in a way that isn't prissy. Something in "guy banter speak" (without anger, with a smile) like "Yo, dude, my uncle is gay - watch your mouth!" (or whatever - I am not a native speaker!) might be more effective than something that sounds more like a lecture. Say it and move on - no need to dwell on it, just get the idea out there. My kids have found that they can speak up this way without negative ramification, and that when they do they are respected for it, especially by others who would like to speak out but think they're the only one. Just because something is common, doesn't mean it's not hurtful to some people. Remember that one person speaking out can make a difference, sometimes in ways they will never know. :)

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That said, he doesn't nec have to "go in w/ fists flying." I started experimenting w/ cussing in 6th g. One day, I looked up at a friend--the kind you know is better than you in every way--& I just asked her point blank, "You don't cuss, do you?" Nope. And I was done w/ it, & I've never forgotten her grace or class.

 

Leading by example may have a greater chance of being successful than a lecture.

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Wouldn't it be better for him to lie low for a few months, then start saying, "I really don't like it when you say that"? Right now there is no power behind his objection, because he has no status in the group.

 

He probably wouldn't agree to lie low anyway. We went to the civil partnership ceremony of some old friends of mine a few weeks ago. Calvin was very struck by stories he heard of early Gay marriage in Canada, with participants wearing bullet-proof vests.

 

Laura

 

He could even jokingly call them on it.

 

When they say, "That compass is so gay!" he could ask them to explain. "Seriously? I never picked that up from the compass. Doesn't seem to gay to me - maybe ridiculous, but certainly not gay."

 

Call them on their meaning of gay and apply it to the actual situation and realize - well, that's dumb.

 

For ex: "Rock climbing is so gay."

 

"Really? It requires amazing skill, endurance, and a lack of fearlessness to be gay? I hate rock climbing but didn't realize it was gay! I suppose it IS gender neutral - it that what you meant? "

 

See what I mean? Said in a friendly manner, of course. When dh starts bringing home the foul mouth from the Army I use this until he realizes he sounds ridiculous and isn't expressing what he actually means.

 

"This computer is a piece of sh*t."

 

"Really? Elephant sh*t? Horse sh*t? Hamster sh*t? Wait, you built that computer? Is it your sh*t? That's disgusting! I thought your mother trained you better!"

 

It's really kind of funny (to me).

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If this were my dc I would discuss with him his options in social situations and the possible consequences of those options and let him choose.

 

I think it's great that he thinks this is wrong and wants to stand up for it. Words have a lot of power and I don't think we should accept negative alternative uses. I do believe it has a negative impact on the community if the term describing the community is permitted to be used negatively. I work very part time with teens who are in an alternative setting and I try to correct this regularly. Gay, Jew and retard are all part of their banter. Since I have a son who has down syndrome, I cringe all the time at the use of retard, but I also respond to any similarly inappropriately used label.

 

:iagree:I really liked this response. I wanted to add that every situation he is going to run into is going to call for wisdom. I would probly discuss with him the "context" and the evolution of words meanings.

 

It is never OK to call use derogative terms against a human. One of the things that struck me about the article was the observation that most often the word was being used in situations that had nothing to do with sexuality.

 

Then there is the understanding of the user to consider, and the manner in which he goes about "educating" them about the inappropriatness of the word.

 

For example: if a peer uses the word in group situation, and it is being used in a non-sexual context...he might be wise to mention something privately.

 

Now if he is presented with the situation where the term is being used in a derogative way against someone, I hope he would stand with that person, not just against the word. From what you describe, he sounds like that type of kid. :001_smile:

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Guest Alte Veste Academy
Perhaps your conversation can be more about how to bring the subject up in a way that isn't prissy. Something in "guy banter speak" (without anger, with a smile) like "Yo, dude, my uncle is gay - watch your mouth!" (or whatever - I am not a native speaker!) might be more effective than something that sounds more like a lecture. Say it and move on - no need to dwell on it, just get the idea out there. My kids have found that they can speak up this way without negative ramification, and that when they do they are respected for it, especially by others who would like to speak out but think they're the only one. Just because something is common, doesn't mean it's not hurtful to some people. Remember that one person speaking out can make a difference, sometimes in ways they will never know. :)

 

:iagree:

 

I have been pondering this thread for a while and couldn't figure out a good response beyond the fact that I could never, never, never recommend that my dc remain quiet if something deeply offended them. I get what people are saying about the term not actually being used to denigrate gay people in this usage but the fact is that the term obviously did offend your ds on this very level.

 

FWIW, I was an Army brat and almost always the new kid wherever I went. I spoke up all the time...as a kid, as a teen, even now (have never had the ability to hold my tongue!). It never seemed to hurt my popularity. To be honest, I think it may have been one of the biggest reasons I was pretty popular; I had a lot of self-confidence. Maybe it was all about delivery, as Pauline explained? I was quick with a joke to soften the blow. :tongue_smilie:

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He could even jokingly call them on it.

 

When they say, "That compass is so gay!" he could ask them to explain. "Seriously? I never picked that up from the compass. Doesn't seem to gay to me - maybe ridiculous, but certainly not gay."

 

Call them on their meaning of gay and apply it to the actual situation and realize - well, that's dumb.

 

For ex: "Rock climbing is so gay."

 

"Really? It requires amazing skill, endurance, and a lack of fearlessness to be gay? I hate rock climbing but didn't realize it was gay! I suppose it IS gender neutral - it that what you meant? "

 

See what I mean? Said in a friendly manner, of course. When dh starts bringing home the foul mouth from the Army I use this until he realizes he sounds ridiculous and isn't expressing what he actually means.

 

"This computer is a piece of sh*t."

 

"Really? Elephant sh*t? Horse sh*t? Hamster sh*t? Wait, you built that computer? Is it your sh*t? That's disgusting! I thought your mother trained you better!"

 

It's really kind of funny (to me).

 

 

Loved this!!! I remember being in the car with my mom and saying "Holy Sh*t!!!" and she calmly said, "there's no such thing, sweetie." I was stunned, and could never use the term again :D!

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When I was young and idealistic, I worked in the non-profit world for various 'causes,' and learned a great lesson from someone with far more experience (and success, lol). It's a question everyone should ask themselves often: Do you want to make a point, or do you want to make a difference?

 

In this situation, if Calvin calls the other kids out on their use of 'gay' to mean 'lame,' he might make a point, but he isn't going to make a difference. And I do think that the social fallout for a new, non-comformist-in-other-ways-as-well kid could be disastrous.

 

Please note that I am not suggesting that he toss all of his principles to the side in order to fit in. I am just suggesting that he pick his battles. These boys aren't cornering someone with taunts of being gay, queer, faggot, they are simply assigning meaning to a word that Calvin doesn't agree with.

 

Honestly, I have very little problem with using the word 'gay' in either of its modern contexts. When it's used to mean lame, that's what it means; when it's used to mean homosexual, that's what it means, and it doesn't have a negative connotation to most people. It's the most common self-identifier for the gay community, after all.

 

Linguistics aside, I would encourage him to always ask himself if he's trying to make a point, or trying to make a difference. If you spend too much time trying to make points, people won't notice when you are trying to make a difference.

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This is a question. Only a question. I am ignorant on the subject and only want to understand.

 

If the word "gay" originally meant "happy" and that meaning still works, how did the word "gay" come to be appropriated as the term for homosexual men only?

 

And, if it evolved to be used in a different way from its original use, why cannot it not continue to evolve to be used in a new/different way by a new generation?

 

AGAIN, I am not trying to start something. Just wondering?

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Guest Dulcimeramy

My son (13) has noticed that one can make a stand by simply not joining in.

 

For example, if he is laughing and joking with everyone and someone says something inappropriate, Nate just "throws his face into neutral" (his phrase) and looks at the person with a sad but kind expression.

 

It serves as a silent rebuke but there is obviously no anger or malice so no one has ever, ever turned on him because of it. They do modify their speech.

 

I didn't teach him to do that and I wish I'd been able to do it as a teen.

 

Then, later, if the talk ever becomes directed at a person, he has the reputation of being someone who never laughed at the jokes and never took part, and no one is surprised when he then takes his verbal or physical moral stand.

 

I think this is a dignified and effective approach to life. Never laugh or condone, but don't lash out and judge the offender, and DO take a verbal or physical stand when the offense is against an actual person and not just a casual, thoughtless slur.

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This is a question. Only a question. I am ignorant on the subject and only want to understand.

 

If the word "gay" originally meant "happy" and that meaning still works, how did the word "gay" come to be appropriated as the term for homosexual men only?

 

And, if it evolved to be used in a different way from its original use, why cannot it not continue to evolve to be used in a new/different way by a new generation?

 

AGAIN, I am not trying to start something. Just wondering?

 

I was wondering the same thing.

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Guest Alte Veste Academy
This is a question. Only a question. I am ignorant on the subject and only want to understand.

 

If the word "gay" originally meant "happy" and that meaning still works, how did the word "gay" come to be appropriated as the term for homosexual men only?

 

And, if it evolved to be used in a different way from its original use, why cannot it not continue to evolve to be used in a new/different way by a new generation?

 

AGAIN, I am not trying to start something. Just wondering?

 

I don't think you could get away with using gay in place of happy in most places anymore (certainly not in school).

 

For me, the reason why this particular evolution is not OK is because in its new usage, it basically means "messed up."

 

"That is gay, man." = "That is messed up, man."

 

Folks sensitive to the issue at hand see this association and those who are not do not.

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Guest Alte Veste Academy
He could even jokingly call them on it.

 

When they say, "That compass is so gay!" he could ask them to explain. "Seriously? I never picked that up from the compass. Doesn't seem to gay to me - maybe ridiculous, but certainly not gay."

 

Call them on their meaning of gay and apply it to the actual situation and realize - well, that's dumb.

 

For ex: "Rock climbing is so gay."

 

"Really? It requires amazing skill, endurance, and a lack of fearlessness to be gay? I hate rock climbing but didn't realize it was gay! I suppose it IS gender neutral - it that what you meant? "

 

See what I mean? Said in a friendly manner, of course. When dh starts bringing home the foul mouth from the Army I use this until he realizes he sounds ridiculous and isn't expressing what he actually means.

 

"This computer is a piece of sh*t."

 

"Really? Elephant sh*t? Horse sh*t? Hamster sh*t? Wait, you built that computer? Is it your sh*t? That's disgusting! I thought your mother trained you better!"

 

It's really kind of funny (to me).

 

This is great, and kind of what I was meaning before about using humor to tone down corrections. However, not everyone can pull it off. I think my dd and my youngest ds could end up with personalities that could do this but for my older ds, an introvert who is terribly uncomfortable with confrontation, I love this...

 

My son (13) has noticed that one can make a stand by simply not joining in.

 

For example, if he is laughing and joking with everyone and someone says something inappropriate, Nate just "throws his face into neutral" (his phrase) and looks at the person with a sad but kind expression.

 

It serves as a silent rebuke but there is obviously no anger or malice so no one has ever, ever turned on him because of it. They do modify their speech.

 

I didn't teach him to do that and I wish I'd been able to do it as a teen.

 

Then, later, if the talk ever becomes directed at a person, he has the reputation of being someone who never laughed at the jokes and never took part, and no one is surprised when he then takes his verbal or physical moral stand.

 

I think this is a dignified and effective approach to life. Never laugh or condone, but don't lash out and judge the offender, and DO take a verbal or physical stand when the offense is against an actual person and not just a casual, thoughtless slur.

 

Wonderful! A perfect, low-key and, yes, dignified technique. :001_smile:

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Guest Alte Veste Academy
When I was young and idealistic, I worked in the non-profit world for various 'causes,' and learned a great lesson from someone with far more experience (and success, lol). It's a question everyone should ask themselves often: Do you want to make a point, or do you want to make a difference?

 

In this situation, if Calvin calls the other kids out on their use of 'gay' to mean 'lame,' he might make a point, but he isn't going to make a difference. And I do think that the social fallout for a new, non-comformist-in-other-ways-as-well kid could be disastrous.

 

Please note that I am not suggesting that he toss all of his principles to the side in order to fit in. I am just suggesting that he pick his battles. These boys aren't cornering someone with taunts of being gay, queer, faggot, they are simply assigning meaning to a word that Calvin doesn't agree with.

 

Honestly, I have very little problem with using the word 'gay' in either of its modern contexts. When it's used to mean lame, that's what it means; when it's used to mean homosexual, that's what it means, and it doesn't have a negative connotation to most people. It's the most common self-identifier for the gay community, after all.

 

Linguistics aside, I would encourage him to always ask himself if he's trying to make a point, or trying to make a difference. If you spend too much time trying to make points, people won't notice when you are trying to make a difference.

 

Sometimes making a point makes a difference within ourselves, and that can be enough.

 

And sometimes it can make a hidden difference within another person who is present.

 

Logging on again, I just noticed that the title of this thread is "Doing what's right and social success." Doesn't that say it all?

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Does this school have a PFLAG or similar association? I'm wondering what the local homosexual community's take is, esp wrt to the levels of homophobia. I'd suggest Calvin either get involved or merely contact them to ask the question whether they consider it a slur or not.

 

Or maybe he could write a column in the school newspaper & ask for feedback?

 

I'm just wondering how this word is perceived & how gay rights are perceived because I think that would make a bit of difference in the approach to take. It might be more like the word fag, which has a completely different meaning in the UK than in NA.

 

Generally speaking though, I'd advise a child to always stick to the right side & let the chips fall where they may.

 

& one thing I haven't seen mentioned is that a young man standing up for gay rights had better be prepared for questions or comments regarding his own sexuality & preferences. Heterosexual men who are liberal & non-discriminatory in this way seem to be sometimes left out in the cold. Since they don't actually belong in the gay community, there is sometimes limited support there & the straight students will often look at him askance.

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I agree with those who think that he shouldn't tone down his principles to fit in. That said, he doesn't need to give a moral lecture - humor will probably be much more effective.

 

He could say something like, "Dude, your compass has same-sex attractions? How can you even tell?" Or "It's gay? Whoa, is it waving a little rainbow flag?"

 

Because most of these kids probably don't mean to be expressing malice towards gays, this is a gentle way of pointing out that the word that they are using to mean useless/pathetic/no-good is a word that applies to a specific group of people.

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Wow--it's very personal for him.

 

I guess...it depends on what you mean by "lie low."

 

 

 

I believe it is rude for others to constantly correct others failings...if they were their parent, their mentor, teacher...then they have a responsibility to correct this behavior..apparently, they're not correcting it. So, do we then allow our children to become societal correctness guards? No. If he develops a STRONG friendship with one of them, then one on one (not in a crowd that could bring humiliation) he has the responsibility to share his concerns.

 

He has the choice to not associate with those people...if it offends him that greatly, perhaps find a different crowd? I was very friendly to everyone in my school, but my circle of friends I gravitated toward would never say things like that...did I hear things like that? Yes, then I would just politely excuse myself or find something else to do.

 

It's the same thing with adults, if I don't appreciate what a company does/says then I don't shop there anymore....I don't watch their programming...I have choices..but if I sat there and forced my socially correct views on everyone, who is that helping/hurting?

 

Is he as equally offended when they throw a curse word around? Maybe you can work with him on his sensitivity to this particular issue..we need to know when our overreactions blur with social inequities....my son was very offended in Scouts by derogatory words they would call each other...he would say something because as a Scout they ALL agreed to uphold the code...'be kind, reverent, etc." and they were NOT doing that...but in a public school setting, there is no social code...they have freedom to express themselves..

 

Tara

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I imagine how painful it would be for a middle school aged kid, coming to understand his\her own sexuality, and hearing it equated with being lame or useless. Don't thirteen year olds have enough to deal with already? So I'm not sure I have any advice for Laura, but I'd personally be reluctant to encourage my kids to pretend hurtful words are not hurtful.

 

This!

Perhaps your conversation can be more about how to bring the subject up in a way that isn't prissy. Something in "guy banter speak"...Just because something is common, doesn't mean it's not hurtful to some people. Remember that one person speaking out can make a difference, sometimes in ways they will never know.

 

And definitely this!

 

Another thing for him to remember: He can pick who he want to be friends with. Not everyone will be a good fit, and that's OK.

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He said that one of the boys had overheard him talking about Stephen Fry and had said, 'Why are you talking about him, he's gay.' I thought that this nicely combined the sexuality and uselessness meanings, not so separate, it seems. Calvin asked what being gay had to do with it and the other boy left it at that.

 

I reminded him that it was rude to butt into other people's conversations, so the boy was doubly mistaken: socially inept and bigoted. I led into a reminder that he shouldn't intrude on other people's conversations, whether or not he was offended by what they were saying, unless someone was being bullied/hurt.

 

I also talked about ways of objecting to the usage (when he felt it necessary) without being confrontational, and also suggested that humourless nagging on the issue would just lead to people tuning him out. I suggested that a conversation could go:

 

- That pair of compasses is really gay

- Yeah, I'm sure it has a very happy life

 

He loved the idea, but also mentioned that linguistically-based jokes tend to go down like a lead balloon.

 

He said that his closest friend (whom he knew before joining school) doesn't use the word 'gay' pejoratively.

 

I'll have another think and see whether I need to talk to him again.

 

Laura

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I haven't read the other posts - feeling quite lazy today...but in HS, I knew what was right and I stuck up for it - EVERYTHING. Guess what? I didn't change many minds - just was seen as uptight. I was even voted "biggest complainer" :( My dh, on the other hand, always did what was right and stuck up for individuals if they needed help but has never felt the need to preach at people.

 

For example, if a teacher said something incorrect about God, I would tell the teacher how wrong she was - guess how much she loved me? On the other hand, my dh would keep his mouth shut. If he was in a private conversation, he would react differently; he just learned that there is a time & place for everything - sort of similar to people talking about hsing - is it time to pass the bean dip or is it a situation that having a conversation would be beneficial?

 

It's a hard thing to teach children so good luck :) I have had to learn as an adult that 1. I am not always right 2. sometimes it doesn't matter if I'm right (it's not that important) and 3. even when I am right, there is a time, a place, and a manner in which is most appropriate to speak the truth.

 

gotta go - hth or at least gives some insight...

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He said that one of the boys had overheard him talking about Stephen Fry and had said, 'Why are you talking about him, he's gay.' I thought that this nicely combined the sexuality and uselessness meanings, not so separate, it seems. Calvin asked what being gay had to do with it and the other boy left it at that.

 

I reminded him that it was rude to butt into other people's conversations, so the boy was doubly mistaken: socially inept and bigoted. I led into a reminder that he shouldn't intrude on other people's conversations, whether or not he was offended by what they were saying, unless someone was being bullied/hurt.

 

I also talked about ways of objecting to the usage (when he felt it necessary) without being confrontational, and also suggested that humourless nagging on the issue would just lead to people tuning him out. I suggested that a conversation could go:

 

- That pair of compasses is really gay

- Yeah, I'm sure it has a very happy life

 

He loved the idea, but also mentioned that linguistically-based jokes tend to go down like a lead balloon.

 

He said that his closest friend (whom he knew before joining school) doesn't use the word 'gay' pejoratively.

 

I'll have another think and see whether I need to talk to him again.

 

Laura

 

Sounds like a great kid!!! :D

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Folks sensitive to the issue at hand see this association and those who are not do not.

 

This is a bit condescending, no? People can disagree without one of them lacking sensitivity or awareness or understanding.

 

I'd also be curious at to what, in your mind, defines people as being 'sensitive to the issue at hand?'

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There is a time to say something (maybe in defense of another person who is being attacked verbally or physically), but your son is probably not going to get the ear and attention of those kids in his school. Certain words have become part of the language and, more than likely, he's not going to change that. The word 'gay' has come to mean 'lame' or 'stupid' and is not a personal attack against 'gay' people. I would make sure he understands the difference. I would be very proud if my kids stood up for what is right in defense of another person, but to put themselves out there to change the lingo is a lost cause. They might set an example of intelligent and kind speaking, but most are not going to respond favorably to his calling them out and insinuating that they mean something by their words that they don't. I really would hate to see my kid go through four years of what that could potentially result in.

 

 

How is that not an attack, then? If gay people are being equated (in word) with something that is lame or stupid then how is that NOT an insult?

 

Most people are aware enough now to not use the word 'retarded' to mean 'something I do not like/something that is lame/stupid'. I think we can move beyond the pejorative use of the word gay as well.

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Guest Alte Veste Academy
This is a bit condescending, no? People can disagree without one of them lacking sensitivity or awareness or understanding.

 

I'd also be curious at to what, in your mind, defines people as being 'sensitive to the issue at hand?'

 

Not condescending, I promise. In a hurry, yes. :001_smile:

 

I simply meant that some people have a very personal tie to certain trigger words that makes them more sensitive (as in more likely to be hurt, insulted, etc.) by the casual use of words that have more than one meaning (gay, retarded, spastic, etc.). For example, a dear friend of mine learned the hard way that the Soup Nazi joke from Seinfeld doesn't go over great in Germany. :lol:

 

I'm not saying that people can't disagree without lacking sensitivity, awareness, or understanding. I am simply saying that sometimes the reason particular people can't abide the use of certain words is because they are personally sensitive to the harms (whether perceived or actual) of their use. I said, "Folks sensitive to the issue at hand see this association and those who are not do not." So, for example, if a person has a family member who is mentally retarded, that person would likely be sensitive to the use of the word retarded where someone else just thinks of it as a general insult and is not sensitive to the use of the word.

 

Honestly, I don't have a horse in this race. The use of this particular word is not a personal issue for me, although I do dislike it. The personal issue for me is that I believe in individuals standing up for what is important to them. :001_smile:

 

ETA: I find myself in one of those uncomfortable board situations where I'm trying to be polite all around. In the end, I don't think I represent my own feelings adequately. I don't know any better way to say it than to say that I would not allow the use of these words by my children and/or in my home. The fact is that insults have been made out of words with prior meaning (as above...gay, retarded, spastic, etc.). I do think that a sensitive person would try not to use words with dual and insulting meanings. Sensitive can mean two different things, both prone to emotional injury and careful to not emotionally injure others. I do think censoring your language in an attempt to not injure others is an admirable thing.

Edited by Alte Veste Academy
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I believe it is rude for others to constantly correct others failings...if they were their parent, their mentor, teacher...then they have a responsibility to correct this behavior..apparently, they're not correcting it. So, do we then allow our children to become societal correctness guards? No. If he develops a STRONG friendship with one of them, then one on one (not in a crowd that could bring humiliation) he has the responsibility to share his concerns.

 

He has the choice to not associate with those people...if it offends him that greatly, perhaps find a different crowd? I was very friendly to everyone in my school, but my circle of friends I gravitated toward would never say things like that...did I hear things like that? Yes, then I would just politely excuse myself or find something else to do.

 

It's the same thing with adults, if I don't appreciate what a company does/says then I don't shop there anymore....I don't watch their programming...I have choices..but if I sat there and forced my socially correct views on everyone, who is that helping/hurting?

 

Is he as equally offended when they throw a curse word around? Maybe you can work with him on his sensitivity to this particular issue..we need to know when our overreactions blur with social inequities....my son was very offended in Scouts by derogatory words they would call each other...he would say something because as a Scout they ALL agreed to uphold the code...'be kind, reverent, etc." and they were NOT doing that...but in a public school setting, there is no social code...they have freedom to express themselves..

 

Tara

 

 

But if we don't teach our kids to stand up against evil (and yes, I believe that bigotry is evil) then how do we live with ourselves?

 

I think it IS okay for friends to call each other out on unfairness/unkindness/BIGOTRY! He is saying it nicely, not attacking them.

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Not condescending, I promise. In a hurry, yes. :001_smile:

 

I simply meant that some people have a very personal tie to certain trigger words that makes them more sensitive (as in more likely to be hurt, insulted, etc.) by the casual use of words that have more than one meaning (gay, retarded, spastic, etc.). For example, a dear friend of mine learned the hard way that the Soup Nazi joke from Seinfeld doesn't go over great in Germany. :lol:

 

I'm not saying that people can't disagree without lacking sensitivity, awareness, or understanding. I am simply saying that sometimes the reason particular people can't abide the use of certain words at all is because they are personally sensitive to the harms (whether perceived or actual) of their use. I said, "Folks sensitive to the issue at hand see this association and those who are not do not." So, for example, if a person has a family member who is mentally retarded, that person would likely be sensitive to the use of the word retarded where someone else just thinks it is a general insult and is not sensitive to the use of the word.

 

Honestly, I don't have a horse in this race. The use of this particular word is not a personal issue for me, although I do dislike it. The personal issue for me is that I believe in individuals standing up for what is important to them. :001_smile:

 

:iagree:Good points! For me I would call these trigger words. Like when someone says "She's such a VICTIM." Or, "tough love." And the term "Spiritual Authority." All of which are fine words, but for me they carry a meaning that is beyond what many would think they have. :001_smile:

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