Sticks and stones: "That's so gay" negatively affects gay students

Sticks and stones:

(Medical Xpress)—People may believe words are not harmful, but the phrase "that's so gay" can have negative consequences for gay, lesbian or bisexual students, a new University of Michigan study indicated.

The phrase is often used by young people to describe something as stupid or undesirable. It's part of the vocabulary among students at all types of , including colleges.

Although subtle, such language is hostile, and can be harmful to sexual minorities, said Michael Woodford, an assistant professor of social work and the study's lead author.

The findings appear in the current issue of the Journal of American College Health.

Gay, lesbian and bisexual college students who heard "that's so gay" more frequently were more likely to report feeling isolated and to suffer negative health symptoms, such as headaches, poor appetite or eating problems.

Researchers examined the impact of hearing "that's so gay" among 114 gay, lesbian and bisexual students between the ages of 18 to 25 through an .

Students reported how often they heard the phrase on campus in the past 12 months. They also answered questions about their perceived on campus, physical well-being, mental health and willingness to disclose their .

Practically every respondent reported hearing "that's so gay" on campus at least once in the past 12 months. Nearly half of the students said they've heard the phrase more than 10 times within the year. Only 14 respondents—or 13 percent—hadn't heard it at all.

Hearing the phrase more often was found to increase students' risk for feeling isolated at the university and for health problems.

"Given the nature of gay-lesbian-bisexual stigma, students could already perceive themselves to be excluded on campus and hearing 'that's so gay' may elevate such perceptions," Woodford said.

Increased risk for physical health problems is likely related to a that may occur when students hear the phrase, he said.

'That's so gay' conveys that there is something wrong with being gay," Woodford said. "And, hearing such messages about one's self can cause stress, which can manifest in headaches and other health concerns.

"There is a lot of attention being given to addressing LGBT bullying on college campuses. Obviously, that work is important, but our results suggest that we must also address low-level hostility, including 'that's so gay.' Policies and educational programs are needed to help students, staff and faculty to understand that such language can be harmful to gay students. Hopefully, these initiatives will help to eliminate the phrase from campuses."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

CDC study: Gay, bisexual teens do riskier things

Jun 06, 2011

(AP) -- Gay and bisexual high school students are more likely than their heterosexual classmates to smoke, drink alcohol or do other risky things, according to a government study released Monday.

Sexual orientation affects cancer survivorship

May 09, 2011

Gay men have a higher prevalence of cancer compared with heterosexual men, and lesbian and bisexual female cancer survivors report lower levels of health than heterosexual female cancer survivors. Those are the conclusions ...

Recommended for you

Blood test spots adult depression

16 hours ago

(HealthDay)—A new blood test is the first objective scientific way to diagnose major depression in adults, a new study claims.

Job stress not the only cause of burnouts at work

19 hours ago

Impossible deadlines, demanding bosses, abusive colleagues, unpaid overtime—all these factors can lead to a burnout. When it comes to mental health in the workplace, we often forget to consider the influence of home life.

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Tom_Hennessy
1 / 5 (4) Aug 29, 2012
"'That's so gay' conveys that there is something wrong with being gay,"

One might wonder since so many people actually think there IS something medically wrong with gays , how come the medical profession doesn't.
bearly
1 / 5 (3) Aug 29, 2012
Consider this.. if being gay is "normal" then why does one gay partner assume the "indentity and mannerisums" of the opposite sex? My wife, a real female by the way, says "why doesen't a "butch" female mate with a male who affects the "female mannerisums" and vice versa". At lest this way they could have children and not be diviants. hmmm... I bet I get attacked by gay lovers for this post.lol
LagomorphZero
5 / 5 (5) Aug 29, 2012
"'That's so gay' conveys that there is something wrong with being gay,"

One might wonder since so many people actually think there IS something medically wrong with gays , how come the medical profession doesn't.


That might be because the medical profession, like other sciences, uses studies and research, rather than "every ones opinion".
ziphead
1.8 / 5 (5) Aug 30, 2012
Still bitching about discrimination whilst everyone else has gotten over it; now, that's so gay.
Tom_Hennessy
1 / 5 (3) Aug 30, 2012
"every ones opinion"

Actually that is democracy. IF you don't like democracy you just say so. Oh yeah , you did .
Shootist
1 / 5 (3) Sep 01, 2012
Liberal studies, funded by liberal groups, discovering that liberal social memes are true for liberal voting blocks?

Uh huh.
Shootist
1 / 5 (4) Sep 01, 2012
As to the psychiatric/social issues . . . either male 'gayness' is a choice, a genetic predisposition or a combination of the two.

If the first, there should be no special social consideration given.

If the second, or third, there should be effective treatment modalities. Gene therapy, 12 step programs (after all, alcoholism, drug addiction, etc. are a combination of choice and genetics), and other therapies.

The "consensus" view that 'gayness' just is; is bullshit on the face of it. Something causes it. It is a pathology. The actuary tables for gay men is as "bad" as alcoholics and other drug addicts.

All indication are it is harmful to the practitioner and not normal in the sense that, what 97% of the population does is "normal", what 3% does is not.
barakn
5 / 5 (2) Sep 02, 2012
Consider this.. if being gay is "normal" then why does one gay partner assume the "indentity and mannerisums" of the opposite sex?
Maybe because your head is full of stereotypes from the previous century? And judging from your spelling, you're not very well educated? Especially ironic is that some gay couples out there are composed of pairs of "bears" - men who are "hairy, well-built, hyper-masculine," according to the Urban Dictionary. So why exactly did you choose "bearly" as your username? Is there something you want to tell us? Don't worry about coming out: we won't harm you, except for Shootist who'd just as soon kill you as look at you.
barakn
5 / 5 (1) Sep 02, 2012

The actuary tables for gay men is as "bad" as alcoholics and other drug addicts.

All indication are it is harmful to the practitioner and not normal in the sense that, what 97% of the population does is "normal", what 3% does is not. -Shootist

That's because assholes like you have treated them like shit for centuries. They're in the same position that African Americans were prior to the civil rights era, right down to the lynchings (Matthew Shepard's death after being brutally beaten and left tied to a fence like a scarecrow comes to mind). But there is one critical difference. Unlike the members of a racial minority, there's no guarantee that they can seek a sympathetic ear in their local community or even with members of their own family. So they hide or develop other mental coping mechanisms. And the mental strain resulting from their persecution does lead a few of them into some bad habits. It's a shame that even on a science forum, their tormenters still lurk.
alfie_null
not rated yet Sep 02, 2012
The actuary tables for gay men is as "bad" as alcoholics and other drug addicts.

I understand you are just cherry-picking, but rhetorically I have to ask: didn't it occur to you to elaborate? How do gays die? I suspect it's usually at someone else's hand, or their own hand. It's not much of a stretch to see a link to negative social issues gays have to deal with, because of people with attitudes like yours.

All indication are it is harmful to the practitioner and not normal in the sense that, what 97% of the population does is "normal", what 3% does is not.

Fallacy. Implying that "not normal" is bad. Everybody, yourself included, unless you were synthesized in a vat, has some attributes that aren't shared by the majority. That doesn't make them all bad.
ShotmanMaslo
5 / 5 (1) Sep 02, 2012
"every ones opinion"

Actually that is democracy. IF you don't like democracy you just say so. Oh yeah , you did .


Science is no democracy. If people vote that 1 1=3, is it so?
ShotmanMaslo
not rated yet Sep 02, 2012
As to the psychiatric/social issues . . . either male 'gayness' is a choice, a genetic predisposition or a combination of the two.


Thats a false dichotomy. Homosexuality can also be a result of environment. It is still not a choice.
Tom_Hennessy
1 / 5 (4) Sep 02, 2012
"every ones opinion"

Actually that is democracy. IF you don't like democracy you just say so. Oh yeah , you did .


Science is no democracy. If people vote that 1 1=3, is it so?


No , but it is the other way around. Science says one plus one equals three , and the democracy says , one plus one equals two. Just because science says it it equals three , doesn't make it three.
ShotmanMaslo
not rated yet Sep 02, 2012
Well, homosexuality being "wrong" is a value judgement. That is outside the scope of science, because science is descriptive, not prescriptive. Applies also to medicine, something being a disorder or not is largely a social construct.
Tom_Hennessy
1 / 5 (2) Sep 04, 2012
Qyote: Applies also to medicine, something being a disorder or not is largely a social construct.

Answer: I am not sure what you mean. If a person has a medical problem , cystic fibrosis , we KNOW they have a medical problem. The problem with this situation is doctors have said an intersexual person is normal. Normal ? Comeon. The person had something happen , a misfortune along the way to CAUSE them to be so far gone. Now this window of sexuality encompasses the 'range' found IN the LBGTQ community , all of which are AFFECTED by the same problem AS the intersexual , BUT , to a different DEGREE of medical damage. THAT is where everything is messed up. Doctors who say the intersexual person is NOT medically compromised.