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Tweeting homophobia

Posted by Jim Lopata  September 27, 2012 12:16 PM

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Answer: 2.4 million.

Question: How many tweets have contained variations on a derogatory, six-letter term for ‘homosexual’ that begins with ‘f’ since July 5, 2012?

A new website — nohomophobes.com — launched today by the University of Alberta’s Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services aims to demonstrate just how widespread potentially homophobic language remains in the realm of new media.

And, given numbers like 2.4 million tweets for ‘f****t’ (this is a family blog) over the course of just under three months, homophobia seems awfully widespread.

Other derogatory terminology tracked include:

— “So Gay,” at 800,000 tweets;
— “No Homo,” at 800,000 tweets;
— “D*ke,” at 300,000 tweets.

The institute is suggesting that users tweet hashtag #nohomophobes when witnessing homophobia on Twitter.

An excerpt from the iSMSS press release provides further context:

“We never imagined the scale of casual homophobia that actually exists on social media,” says Dr. Kristopher Wells, the Institute’s Associate Director. “The use of homophobic language remains one of the few socially acceptable forms of discrimination in our society and make no mistake, leads to isolation, bullying, beatings, and tragically youth suicide,” says Wells.

Homophobic language is still prevalent and can be heard everywhere in our society. Whether it is used directly as a weapon against sexual and gender minorities or passively as a pejorative term, the prevalence of “casual homophobia” persists. It continues to grow and reinforces a belief in our society that it’s okay to use this kind of discriminatory speech with friends, in school, at work, and in the locker room.

The site, which was launched today, will be supported by a variety of advertising tools including transit advertising, posters, and a television commercial.

“Our Faculty sees the impact of homophobic language and bullying first hand and educators everywhere should be committed to creating safer schools and communities for young people,” says Dr. Fern Snart, Dean,Faculty of Education, University of Alberta. ”The use of homophobic language only serves to hurt, stereotype, and further isolate sexual minority students and we need to take a stand; ignoring such language is not an option.”

“Our use of casual homophobia must end. We are all responsible to put a stop to it. The lives of our youth, and the humanity of our society depends upon it,” says Dr. Wells.

We encourage people to use the #nohomophobes hashtag when they see or experience casual homophobia on Twitter, and challenge their friends, colleagues, or family members who use it. It’s time to break the silence that surrounds homophobia in our society. We all have an important part to play.

Find out more at the web site nohomophobes.com.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author: Boston Spirit Magazine’s daily blog brings you all of the information you need on New England’s LGBT community. In addition to highlighting local and national LGBT news, we will also highlight local leaders from the worlds of business, politics, fashion and entertainment and keep you up-to-date on all the latest events and parties, hot spots for travel, shopping, dining, and more!
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