"Gay" word used most by kids in school

Publish Date: 08/04/2008

Bad LanguageFor the current generation, gay, bitch and slag are the most common terms of abuse by children of all ages, especially teenagers.

Of the teachers interviewed, 83 per cent said they heard gay being used regularly - much more than its nearest rivals, bitch (59 per) and slag (45 per cent).

'Every generation grows up with a whole lexicon of homosexual insults, in my day it was 'poofter' or 'bender',' lexicographer Tony Thorne told the BBC. 'They were used much more because they were considered more offensive than 'gay', which is more neutral.

'It's only in the last four years that I've documented it being used so much by young people. It's what we call a 'vogue' word, which is a fashionable word.'

One reason for this increase in use could be because 'gay' has partly lost its sexual connotations among young people, he says.

While still pejorative, for the majority of youngsters it has replaced words such as 'lame'.

'I have interviewed scores of school kids about this and they are always emphatic that it has nothing at all to do with hostility to homosexuals,' says Mr Thorne, compiler of the Dictionary of Contemporary Slang.

'It is nearly always used in contexts where sexual orientation and sexuality are completely irrelevant.'

The ATL survey suggests a different case, aligning the word with deliberate insults such as poofter and sissy.

What teachers hear:
  • Gay (83 per cent)
  • Bitch (59 per cent)
  • Slag (45 per cent)
  • Poof (29 per cent)
  • Batty boy (29 per cent)
  • Slut (26 per cent)
  • Queer (26 per cent)
  • Lezzie (25 per cent)
  • Homo (22 per cent)
  • Faggot (11 per cent)
  • Sissy (5 per cent)

By Peter Lloyd (Pink Paper)