Today one of my students loudly and rudely called another student gay. I called him out on it, and he was amazingly quick with the comeback that gay means happy, and he shouldn’t get in trouble for saying another student was happy.
This is the problem with smart yet difficult students. I KNOW what you meant, but that is brutally legitimate. Gay can mean happy, and I’m not going to argue with the dictionary. I gave him my best “we both know you’re a liar but now there’s nothing I can do” look, and he smiled sweetly back at me. I told him that unfortunately, so many people use the word “gay” in a negative way, that if he wanted me to not get angry, he would have to specify which way he was using it. I thought that was the best way of compromising. OF COURSE this was a mistake in middle school.
Suddenly, the rest of the class was all calling eachother and everything around them gay.
“You’re gay, and by gay I mean happy!”
“Yeah, well you’re gay all day every day. And by gay I mean happy.”
“Teacher, you are very gay today… and by gay I mean happy.”
“Man, he’s so gay, and by gay I mean colorful. Look at that shirt!”
This was really a moment of sudden chaos in the middle of my lesson. The entire room was delighted with this “permission” I accidentally gave them to use a word they normally aren’t supposed to use… and since “gay” isn’t a bad word unless used negatively, they really were taking all the force out of it by grinning away and complimenting one another on how happy and colorful they all were. The toughest, meanest kids were politely informing others that they were so very gay today… and by gay I mean happy.
That’s what it’s like to teach middle school.