World Day Against Homophobia, ten words for a more inclusive language

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated on world news

Language habits can be dangerous. On World Day Against Homophobia it is right to reflect on all those expressions or words that can put the other in difficulty: language, in fact, helps to create culture in the environment in which we live. The way we express ourselves is the set of words through which we express our thoughts, but it is also a universal code to which all people have access in different ways and in different ways.

The value of words

A more inclusive language helps to value both people and diversity and is even more important when you are in the presence of a minor, who may not yet have the cognitive tools to understand the way an adult communicates. For this reason, goliardic epithets, which may not be understood, and expressions such as “Don’t be a girl” or “Don’t be a tomboy”, which do nothing but negatively connote a gender, based on archaic stereotypes, should be avoided. Homophobic language also comes in many forms. Most of the time it is used unknowingly and without harmful intent but, while in some cases it is clearly so, in other cases it can be difficult to identify: first of all, a lot of information is needed so that this communication is not dismissed as a “harmless joke” and above all is opposed , due to its negative impact on people, especially young people, on their sense of belonging, on their self-esteem. The constant and casual use of homophobic expressions in common language can lead adolescents to think that being gay is negative and that it is acceptable to discriminate against gay people or treat them in different ways: in this way there is the risk of slipping towards a sort of verbal bullying . In this regard, according to some experts, the non-acceptance of symbols that allow everyone to feel represented does not help: the reference is to signs such as the asterisk or the schwa (especially the latter allows everyone to feel represented, replacing the overextended masculine).

Words like insults

As research by the University of Cambridge for Stonewall has shown, little progress has been made in tackling the use of homophobic language in British schools, which remains an endemic problem. 99% of gay youth reported hearing phrases such as “he’s so gay” and “you’re so gay” at school and 96% consistently hear homophobic remarks. The use of such language, which is opposed by teachers and other school staff, is often fueled by celebrities who often use homophobic expressions: this is a serious problem because it can lead young people to think that it is acceptable to use homophobic language.At the same time we often see the use of the words gay or lesbian as an insult or as an alternative to terms that indicate something dirty or in the most serious cases waste (dirty/waste) or bad people or people with a bad character (for example, the term “lesbian” is often used to indicate a woman with a negative character or aspect, while the word “gay” is used to define men with a weak or submissive character).

More inclusive words

In this regard it is therefore necessary to know words that can help everyone to be understood. First, it is important to remember the acronym, LGBTQI+, acronym used to indicate (in order) lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender-transsexual people and, recently, also extended to queer and asexual. Then, there are terms related to the sexual sphere to know: some less known ones to mention are asexuali.e. not attracted to any gender; bisexualattracted to both genders; intersexreferring to a person with both male and female attributes, or even pansexual, which refers to a person’s attraction to others of all kinds. In this regard, it should also be remembered what the concept of means non-binary, i.e. non-binary: this is an umbrella term for all people who do not identify with either masculine or feminine and reject the binary conception of genders in society. Precisely in this context, the expression used by the LGBTQI+ community takes on a meaning of pride queer, an Anglo-Saxon term used initially in a disparaging sense to indicate homosexual men, which today indicates precisely those people who claim not to identify themselves with specific gender categories and/or sexual orientation. Don’t forget the meaning of coming outi.e. when the process of discovering, considering and accepting one’s sexual orientation or gender identity takes place (not to be confused withouting, i.e. the unfair practice of publicly revealing a person’s sexual orientation without their consent). It is also worth mentioning what the word means trans: is the shortened version of the term transgenderwhich indicates all people who identify in a different gender than the one expected in relation to the sex assigned to them at birth.