A YouGov survey, commissioned last month by BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat, revealed that more than half of young people in Scotland (53%) think the term “that’s gay” is acceptable to use.
YouGov asked over 3,000 18 to 29-year-olds around the country, six questions related to 12 words or phrases generally used around sexuality including dyke, queen, bender, camp and poof.
Out of the total number of respondents 301 were Scots.
The last three decades have shown major steps towards a more equalitarian and inclusive society especially for the LGBTI community.
There were significant changes in the law, from same sex marriage to equal age of consent.
Most recently Scotland have been rated best country in Europe for LGBTI legal equality and will be represented in Westminster by 6 openly gay MSPs.
However cases of bullying, intolerance and violence against people simply because of their sexuality still making headlines not only here but also around the world.
A recently published report by the LGBT Youth Scotland shows that young people still feel rejected by friends, family and community in education and work, facing homophobia, transphobia and biphobia.
Figures from Police Scotland showed, in the past five years, a worrying increase on crimes recorded as sexual orientation.
With those changes the language that we use to refer to sexuality also has changed particularly among young people.
The questions asked by YouGov were:
- How often do you use the words or phases?
- If your friends used them would you ask them to stop?
- Do you think it is acceptable or unacceptable to use them on TV after 9pm?
- Are the words acceptable in songs?
- Is it ever acceptable to use the words?
- How offensive do you find the words or phrases we’ve asked you about?
The word “faggot” came on top as the one that people found most offensive – 84% – with 60% of people in the survey saying that they would ask their friends to stop using the word if they heard it.
Other words considered highly offensive by the respondents were “poof” (73%), “dyke” (65%) and “bender” (63%).
Many agreed the context in which a word is used is as relevant as the person who is using it.
For instance people participating in the survey thought that the words “camp” (77%), “queen” (67%) and “fairy” (57%) were ok to use in some circumstances.
Some young people were also confused about which words people would find offensive when talking about sexuality.
Around (13%) didn’t know if “lezza” was an appropriate term to use, while almost 10% believed using the word homosexual was not acceptable in any circumstance.
The survey suggests people are aware that phrases can cause offence but are sometimes unsure about if they can ever be used, even in a so-called “friendly” way.
For example, 25% didn’t know if “queen” was an acceptable word to use in a song.
In addition to sexuality, the survey included words or phrases related to sexism like slut, dicktease and ho, and racism like nigger, pikey and half caste.
The survey showed that respondents found some words relating to sexuality more offensive than words relating to race.
Various LGBT rights groups, including Stonewall, have highlighted the need to tackle homophobic language.