Do you realize what you say?

“That’s so gay.”

I cannot even begin to count the number of times I told my middle school students not to say that phrase, back when I was teaching. If only I had thought of the Wanda Sykes method of explanation.

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  1. okay, wanda is my pretend girlfriend. too many people fighting over rachel.

    I have to be honest, I have stopped Ben’s friends from going on about girls being “hot” or “cheap” and my favorite is when they call themselves ‘gansta.’

    as if.

    only once did one of them say “so gay” and I looked at him and he looked back at me and I had the ‘what did you just say?’ look on my face and he turned bright red.

    sorry, he mumbled.


    wanda’s mine. you can have rachel.

  2. wanda’s mine. you can have rachel.

    You have made a fine choice with Wanda, as well!

    I apologize for the long response that follows here, but your story made me think of the time when I was co-coaching an 8th grade girls’ basketball team. We were in the school library, wrapping up the first pre-season meeting with the team. I was sitting at a table going over some logistics or other with the other coach, who also happened to be the school’s resource officer and a better basketball player than me. The girls were joking and laughing when one said rather loudly “that’s so gay” and there was a sudden hush. Co-coach and I looked over — I think really more because it suddenly got quiet, and when you are in charge of middle schoolers that’s rarely a good thing — and the girl who said the phrase looked very embarrassed and said to us, “Oh! I’m sorry!”

    Now, we were both out as much as one can be and teach middle school here. I mean, teachers with whom I was friends knew about and had met Unnamed Partner. And co-coach had a picture of herself and her partner on her desk. But we had to laugh that the kids had figured us both out, while so many teachers had not!

  3. great story… and that’s what it takes to change the homophobia, the racism, the sexism, the everything- isms.

    if you get kids while they are young and make an impression, they’ll hold it forever.

    think about it- do you remember your teachers from middle school? I don’t remember them all but a few made deep impressions on me.

    or a neighborhood mom, or a coach, or someone who stood up for that moment like wanda does in the spot, and says, hey, no. that’s wrong.

  4. I work really hard with my own to eradicate that phrase. I haven’t heard it in a long time from them, but there’s a lot of homophobia language from my son’s friends. Drives me crazy.

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