One Equal World

Posts Tagged ‘GLSEN

A photo of the outside of a Target store.

Photo credit: Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock

This decade has seen a long parade of businesses publicly wearing the rainbow. It’s difficult to tell, in most cases, whether they’re honestly supporting their LGBT customers, or just courting an emergent customer base from an angle historically denied.

On May 12th, 2017, Target announced a new line of products to feature LGBT imagery, for the fifth year in a row. Their “Take Pride” products are mostly bold, rainbow-printed clothing, and each purchase will see half of the proceeds donated to the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).

Optimistically, Target doesn’t seem to be only talking the talk. The Minnesota-based mega-corporation has also fiercely defended their policy allowing trans people to use their correct restrooms, and have made a point to be a good employer for trans and LGBT people as well. Many Target locations require gender inclusivity training of their management team members.

Furthermore, they coordinate volunteer opportunities for their employees at both the store and corporate levels to work with LGBT initiatives and charities, most of that volunteer labor matched by corporate contributions. They even used their commercials in 2014 to campaign for same-sex marriage, effectively putting their money where their mouth is.

The commercial with which they launched their newest line is a good one. It hints at the wealth and struggles of LGBT history with archival footage of major milestones, indicating a real recognition of the cause they are supporting, not merely a lip-service token.

The products themselves are summer-themed, whimsical, and fun. T-shirts featuring a dinosaur, unicorn, or pocket-cat waving a Pride flag. There’s even one with a rainbow spread like butter on toast. Shawls, pins, badges, and bumper stickers. A beach towel. Children’s tees declaring their love for moms or dads. Everything a person could want to let the world know on which side of LGBT history they intend to stand on.

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We’ve all heard them: derogatory terms for LGBT people used casually, jokingly, and hurtfully. Some might not even realize how offensive their language is, so they keep on using it day in and day out. Others use anti-gay language knowing full well how many people they’re hurting, and receive few repercussions for doing so.

The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) is aiming to change that by keeping a live tally of the instances of anti-gay language on Twitter. The group has released a new embeddable app called ThinkB4YouSpeak, which tracks the usage of common anti-gay words and phrases like “fag,” “dyke,” and “so gay.” It offers a categorical breakdown of usage for “today,” “last week” and “last month.”

ThinkB4YouSpeak aims to stop the usage of phrases like "that's so gay" in everyday language.

ThinkB4YouSpeak Ad

The GLSEN hopes that by bringing attention to anti-gay language, people will become more aware of what they’re saying and think before they post something using hateful words. The tool also offers a live feed of all tweets containing the targeted words and phrases, which means that the people who use them will be held more accountable.

While many people using anti-gay terms and phrases are perfectly aware that their language is offensive, many young people do not realize the full extent of what they are saying. Pre-teens and teens may begin using the terms after picking them up from others and begin using them without understanding why they would be considered hurtful.

A prime example of this happening is with the phrase “That’s so gay.” In recent years, it’s been used as a way to say something is stupid or undesirable. Kids pick up on the meaning, but they don’t always realize the context. And that’s just why this kind of app is needed—to help those kids and adults understand that there’s a history behind the words they use, and that while a term or phrase may seem common enough to be acceptable, that’s not always the case. We need to think about these things before we speak, so that we can understand the full implication of what we are saying.