A new University of Michigan study has revealed the phrase could have deep consequences for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students.
Published in the Journal of American College Health, the study reportedly examined the impact of hearing "that's so gay" among 114 LGBT students between the ages of 18 and 25,CBS Detroit is reporting.
The resulting data found that LGBT students who heard the phrase frequently were more likely to feel isolated and experience headaches, poor appetite or eating problems than those who didn't. Still, the study also revealed another troubling statistic: a mere 14 respondents (13 percent) hadn't heard "that's so gay" at all throughout the duration of the survey.
Students reported how often they heard the phrase on campus in the past 12 months. They also answered questions about their perceived social acceptance on campus, physical well-being, mental health and willingness to disclose their sexual orientation.
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.
"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."
"Given the nature of gay-lesbian-bisexual stigma, sexual minority
students could already perceive themselves to be excluded on campus and
hearing 'that's so gay' may elevate such perceptions," Michael Woodford,
an assistant professor of social work and co-author of the new study, said in a statement. "'That's so gay' conveys that there is something wrong with being gay."
He went on to suggest, "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."
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