ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Straight college students who casually use the expression “that’s so gay” to indicate something is lame or “uncool,” may not mean harm but can still create a hostile environment for LGBT students, a new University of Michigan student finds according to a report published this week in Health News, an online news outlet that covers student-related health care news.
The study was published in the January issue of Journal of Interpersonal Violence, the report said.
The study found that those using the phrase are not usually homophobic — it was more often linked to levels of discomfort around men who exhibited feminine mannerisms. Researchers explored how commonly used the phrase is and found it pervasive enough that it’s part of the “implicit culture” of campus life at the University of Michigan where the study was conducted.
The study used data from 378 male undergraduates between 18 and 25 years of age who identified as “completely heterosexual.” Participants were asked how many times in the past 12 months they had “said the phrase ‘that’s so gay’ to suggest something was stupid or undesirable.” They were asked about the frequency of hearing the phrase used in the same way.
Researchers suggested the phrase be eliminated from common usage because it has subtle negative ramifications for LGB students.