Students invalidating the term “gay” at WMS represents a microcosm of a larger issue in America


Gianna Graffeo-Seda and Nisha Hodgins

Beautiful puzzle piece mural in WMS.

Gianna Graffeo-Seda and Nisha Hodgins

According to WMS students, the term “gay” is often used with a negative connotation. Throughout the school year students frequently used this word to tease others. This is not a problem that is limited to WMS, but is an epidemic that goes on throughout the country.

“It’s very sad I don’t like it,” a student said. From the ten students who have been asked, they all claimed to have heard students invalidate the term “many times.” One student says it is a serious issue because it can make students afraid to come out.  Another student commented, “Most people today shouldn’t discriminate.”

A theory suggests that the cause of this type of disparagement is that people simply are not educated on the topic. LGBTQ+ describes gender identity, or who people are romantically attracted to.  Some students said they know what the term means; one student said that her peers might have  “misunderstood” this term.

Memes and the internet could play a big part in this, said one middle schooler.  Others feel that students may have used the word in an unfavorable aspect “due to their beliefs.” Everyone has different opinions about this controversial subject. A pupil thinks that some may use this term negatively because they heard it somewhere else and just used it, without understanding the harm it can cause.  Or maybe it’s just that they don’t know what it actually is.

“It’s not acceptable,” Our school counselors, Mrs. Torrella, and Mrs. Valente explained. They both agreed that when students come to WMS they should feel “comfortable.” According to the information collected from an anonymous survey, people tend to disagree on whether it is done deliberately. Mrs. Torrella said, “Sometimes I do believe students say unkind things intentionally. Some students don’t realize the meaning of the words. Especially when they play Fortnite, they take back offensive language.” Mrs. Torrella also believes that in order to settle this matter, students should pay more attention to when she, and Ms. Valente come to classes to teach about kindness and what is inappropriate language.

Both the WMS principal and vice principal are aware of students using this word to tease others. Mr. Harris said, “It is not a term to use loosely.” He continues to explain how it is like when kids listen to rap music; rap music uses curse words casually, so kids believe they can use it too.

Dr. Crowe believes that in some cases students do know what they are saying is harmful, but in some cases they don’t. Dr. Crowe said students can resolve the problem by telling a teacher when it is happening. “One thing they shouldn’t do is tell no one,” Dr. Crowe commented. Mr. Harris thinks the school has to educate the students, but parents need to help inform their children as well.

“Students should be able to come to school free from being bullied,” Dr. Crowe mentioned. He said that what is happening is “not acceptable”. Mr. Harris said, “You just don’t bully human beings. They are people, as simple as that.”

Out of six anonymous responses from a poll, only one person did not know what LGBTQ+ actually meant. However, all of them said that it is a large issue in WMS, and heard “gay” used negatively. One individual confessed, “I have some people that I know that are gay having a really hard time being who they really are. Like people say that’s disgusting, or that’s so gross that you like the same gender; I feel we should talk about this as a school to be respectful and be more mature about.”

More than ever, schools must adjust to the situation that is arising. An article from The Guardian titled “Self-loathing among gay people is nothing new. We’re overwhelmed by it.” Discusses mental health in association with the LGBTQ+ community, and the issues they face.

Because some schools don’t know how to approach the problem, below are links that provide more information on creating a safe school environment.