Comments About Anti-Gay Slur Ignore Real Effect on Students
The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network is calling on Ann Coulter to apologize for her use of an anti-gay slur and for her subsequent defense, which is potentially dangerous to millions of students across the country in denying the real impact of the word "faggot" on those who experience pervasive bullying and harassment based on actual or perceived sexual orientation in school.
After calling Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards a “faggot” last week while poking fun at actor Isaiah Washington, who went into treatment after his own use of the slur, Coulter vehemently downplayed the negative impact of the anti-gay slur Monday on Fox News.
"Faggot isn't offensive to gays; it has nothing to do with gays," Coulter said on "Hannity and Colmes." "It's a schoolyard taunt meaning 'wuss.’"
"It is ludicrous to try to divorce the power of this word from its roots as a derogatory term referring to gay men,” said GLSEN Founder and Executive Director Kevin Jennings. “This anti-gay slur is offensive to every sensible person, from the most conservative to the most liberal among us. The only people who defend the use of such slurs are the very people who use them – bullies."
More than three out of four (75.4 percent) lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students reported hearing anti-gay slurs such as "faggot" or "dyke" frequently or often in school in GLSEN’s 2005 National School Climate Survey. Nearly two-thirds of students (64.3 percent) reported feeling unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation.
"There is so much wrong with Ann Coulter’s comments it is hard to know where to begin, but her ignorance regarding the impact of this 'schoolyard taunt' points to a disturbing reality of school life," Jennings said. "The use of anti-gay slurs in schools is pervasive and affects school climate, students' sense of safety in school and, ultimately, academic achievement and educational aspirations.
"There is no place for the anti-gay slur in our popular culture, and there certainly is no place for it in a schoolyard."