Canadian university officials say they hope their new, web-based initiative will act as a "social mirror" reflecting the "pervasive and damaging" issue of casual homophobia on the Internet.
The site, called NoHomophobes.com, reportedly measures the number of instances several commonly-used anti-gay terms -- including "faggot" and "dyke" -- are used daily, weekly and yearly on Twitter. The tally of numbers is indeed staggering: for instance, the term "so gay" was mentioned in a total of 800,000 tweets since July, though the most common was undoubtedly "faggot" (used 2.4 million times in the Twittersphere), according to the site.
Dr. Kristopher Wells, the Associate Director of University of Alberta’s Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services, said his team's agenda isn't to focus on individual tweets or Twitter users, but simply to demonstrate the "astonishing" frequency in which anti-gay language is used in everyday conversation.
"We make it very clear on our site that we are not in any way implying that the people who have tweeted these words were all intending to be homophobic," Wells told HuffPost Gay Voices in an email statement. "Words have the power to hurt, but they also have the power to heal. We want people to think before they speak and to always be mindful of the power of the language they use."
According to Wells, the site will be also supported by a variety of advertising tools, including transit advertising, posters, and a television commercial. Response from viewers, he said, has been incredibly supportive.
"People want to have this conversation," he said. "I saw one youth who even tweeted, 'Now you know my daily reality.'"
View a selection of statistics from GLSEN's 2011 National School Climate Survey, which also measured the use of anti-gay language in schools, below:
81.9 percent of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 38.3 percent reported being physically harassed and 18.3 percent reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation.
A considerable number of students reported discriminatory policies or practices against LGBT people by their school or school personnel. Students indicated the most common discriminatory policy or practice was related to treatment of LGBT relationships (e.g., related to dates for school dances and public display of affection).
60.4 percent of LGBT students never reported an incident of harassment or assault to school personnel.
84.9 percent of LGBT students heard "gay" used in a negative way (e.g., "that's so gay") and 71.3 percent heard homophobic remarks (e.g., "dyke" or "faggot") frequently or often at school.
Transgender students experienced more hostile school climates than their non-transgender peers -- 80 percent of transgender students reported feeling unsafe at school because of their gender expression.
Six in 10 LGBT students (63.5 percent) reported feeling unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation; and four in 10 (43.9 percent) felt unsafe because of their gender expression.
LGBT students reported feeling unsafe in specific school spaces, most commonly locker rooms (39.0 percent), bathrooms (38.8 percent) and physical education/gym class (32.5 percent).
The reported grade point average of students who were more frequently harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender expression was lower than for students who were less often harassed (2.9 vs. 3.2). Increased levels of victimization were related to increased levels of depression and anxiety and decreased levels of self-esteem.
Nearly one third of LGBT students (29.8 percent) reported skipping a class at least once and 31.8 percent missed at least one entire day of school in the past month because of safety concerns.
Being out in school had positive and negative repercussions for LGBT students - outness was related to higher levels of victimization, but also higher levels of psychological well-being.
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