Ask students to work in pairs and share feedback. Agree on a definition as a class.
It will be interesting to see if students think homophobic language is a problem in this school. Even if they don’t, hopefully they will recognise that it is elsewhere in the world. You could mention Russia / Putin etc if they need prompting.
Discussion of what makes a word homophobic.
You may need to break this down further and / or print it out for your class…
Speaks for itself.
These are really interesting to look at / discuss. Feel free to find your own examples of different resources if you like – eg Sochi etc.
Again, this might need differentiating.
This should be done independently or in pairs. Feedback and discuss as a class.
You might want to print this out. Read and discuss what Facebook is doing here and why it is important.
Please photograph your board of post-it notes and / or some specific examples and upload to the blog at http://excellencethroughcreativity.tumblr.com/
LGBTQ month lesson on homophobic language
LGBTQ and language
Why is it important to be politically
What is homophobic language?
• How would you define it?
• What common examples do we hear?
• Homophobia can be defined as an irrational
dislike, hatred or fear of individuals that are
lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
• Homophobia can be physical, verbal or
Is homophobic language a problem:
• In this school?
• In our society?
• Around the world?
Common examples of homophobic
• Faggot / fag
Are all of these words always homophobic?
How do we decide?
• Originated in the 12 century, derived from the
French ‘gai’, to mean ‘joyful’ or carefree’.
• In the early part of the 17th century, it began to
be associated with immoral behaviour (‘carefree’
• In the 19th century the word ‘gay’ began to be
used to mean a (female) prostitute, or a man who
had many sexual partners, often prostitutes.
• In the 1920s and 30s, ‘gay’ began to be used to
refer to homosexual men. This additional
meaning entered the dictionary in 1955.
• In the 1980s, ‘gay’ began to also be used in a
derogatory way as a synonym for ‘lame’ or
• So, the word ‘gay’ is not itself homophobic.
• But using the word ‘gay’ to mean something is
What is the distinction here?
• What is political correctness?
• Is it important?
Politically correct language
• Political correctness is the term used to
describe language, ideas, policies or behaviour
which seeks to minimise offence to
racial, cultural or other identity groups.
• We need to be careful about the language
that we use, and the language that we don’t
• The term is often used negatively by critics
who see it as unnecessary.
The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis
• The practice of using inclusive or neutral language derives
from the idea of two linguists called Sapir and Whorf, called
the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.
• Their idea was that language governs thought – so the
language that you speak governs how you think.
• For example, according to this hypothesis, sexist language
promotes sexist thought. We can apply this to homophobic
• So, if you are constantly referred to as a “girl” when you are
a grown woman, you will not view yourself as equal to a
man. If you constantly see the female term come second in
terms like “Mr and Mrs” and “Dear Sir or Madam,” you
become conditioned to regarding the female as second
• And if you constantly hear ‘gay’ being used as an insult…
Why is homophobic language a
In secondary schools
• 98 per cent of gay pupils hear ‘that’s so gay’ or
‘you’re so gay’ at school
• 97 per cent of gay pupils hear derogatory phrases
such as ‘dyke’ or ‘poof’ used in school
• 95 per cent of secondary school teachers report
hearing the phrases ‘that’s so gay’ or ‘you’re so
gay’ at school
• eight in ten secondary school teachers report
hearing other insulting homophobic remarks such
as ‘poof’, ‘dyke’, ‘queer’ and ‘faggot’
This is (hopefully) how political
• Certain groups of people (eg LGBT individuals) have
their rights and freedoms restricted due to the way
they are categorised as part of a group which has a
negative stereotype associated with it.
• This categorisation is largely unconscious, and is
facilitated by the fact that labelling terminology (eg
dyke, faggot) is easily available.
• By focusing on this labelling terminology and making it
problematic, people are made to think consciously
about the language they use to describe someone.
• Once labelling becomes a conscious activity, the
individual merits of a person, rather than their
perceived membership of a group, becomes more
Put the following words under two
headings, appropriate and inappropriate
• Has Facebook done the right thing?
• How will this decision help to counteract
• What do you think of this new terminology?
Write on your post-it note one thing
you will or won’t do in the future to
tackle homophobic language