The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) joined with The Advertising Council today to launch the first national multimedia public service advertising (PSA) campaign designed to address the use of anti-gay language among teens. The campaign launch coincides with the release of GLSENís 2007 National School Climate Survey
, which found that nearly nine in ten lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) teens report having been verbally harassed in the past school year, and almost half have been physically harassed because of their sexual orientation.
The campaign will be unveiled Friday by actress Hilary Duff, who stars in one of the new television PSAs, at GLSENís annual Respect Awards - Los Angeles gala. Comedian Wanda Sykes appears in another TV spot created for the campaign.
LGBT teens in the U.S. experience homophobic remarks and
harassment throughout the school day, creating an atmosphere where they feel disrespected, unwanted and unsafe. GLSENís new survey found that three-quarters of LGBT teens hear slurs such as "faggot" or "dyke" frequently or often at school, and nine in ten reports hearing anti-LGBT language frequently or often. Homophobic remarks such as "thatís so gay" are the most commonly heard type of biased remarks at school. Research shows that these slurs are often unintentional and are a part of teensí vernacular. Most do not recognize the consequences, but the casual use of this language often carries over into more overt harassment.
The new campaign aims to raise awareness among straight teens about the prevalence and consequences of anti-LGBT bias and behavior in Americaís schools. Ultimately, the goal is to reduce and prevent the use of homophobic language in an effort to create a more positive environment for LGBT teens. The campaign also aims to reach adults, including school personnel and parents, because their support of this message is crucial to the success of efforts to change behavior among the target age group.
"We are proud to partner with the Ad Council on this groundbreaking campaign to address anti-LGBT language," said GLSEN Founder and Executive Director Kevin Jennings. "Every student has a right to feel safe in school free from bullying and harassment. When students do not feel safe, they struggle to learn. This campaign will help educate young people about the harmful language many of them commonly use."
Created pro bono by ad agency ArnoldNYC, the campaign includes television, radio, print, outdoor and Web advertising. The TV ads feature scenarios in which the term "thatís so gay" is used casually in an effort to help teens recognize that their anti-LGBT language is harmful. The ads conclude with Wanda Sykes in one TV spot, and Hilary Duff in another, urging teens to "knock it off." The campaign hopes to motivate teens to become allies in the efforts to raise awareness, stop using anti-LGBT language, and safely intervene when they are present and anti-LGBT harassment and behavior occurs. The PSAs direct audiences to visit a new comprehensive website, www.ThinkB4YouSpeak.com.
"We are proud to join with GLSEN on this very important campaign, the first to address the common use of anti-LGBT language and its harmful effects," said Peggy Conlon, President & CEO of the Ad Council. "When we tested the new ads with teens, they found the approach to be realistic and identifiable. I believe this campaign will open their eyes to the dangers of using this language and, ultimately, create a safer environment for LGBT students."
"We have a responsibility as communicators to help inform a very prevalent behavior that most teens have never thought twice about, and then leave it up to them to do the right thing," said John Staffen, Chief Creative Officer, ArnoldNYC.
The website, www.ThinkB4YouSpeak.com, provides tips on how to support LGBT issues and the opportunity for visitors to take a stand against anti-LGBT language through an interactive pledge form that will allow teens to "say something original," by sharing alternatives to "thatís so gay." The site also includes a dictionary-type tool that illustrates a wordís meaning and the notion of understanding oneís choice of words. Additional features include an e-card and a video library that calls for user submissions.
The new ads are being distributed to approximately 33,000 media stations nationwide this week. Per the Ad Councilís donated media model, all of the new ads will air and run in advertising time and space donated by the media. Media companies, including MTV (Music Television), have made early commitments to support the campaign.
Beginning this week, an integrated social media program will further the reach of the public service messages on popular social networking sites and blogs targeted to teens. Partnerships with Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) will also engage students in chapters and student clubs throughout the country. Launch activities will continue next week to coincide with National Ally Week (October 13 - 17), a week that focuses on encouraging "allies" to sign a pledge to help stop bullying and harassment of LGBT teens.
GLSEN's National School Climate Survey is the only national survey to document the experiences of students who identify as LGBT in America's secondary schools and has been conducted biennially since 1999. This year's survey includes responses from 6,209 LGBT students between the ages of 13 and 21 from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
ArnoldNYC is a nimble, full service, untraditional creative agency focused on building big ideas that lead to strong business results for brands like Hershey's, Timex, Lee, TUMS, alli, Nicorette and USTA. ArnoldNYC is owned by Havas (Nasdaq: HAVS) and is one of the lead mid-sized agencies in the New York market. ArnoldNYC prides itself on creating great work that works, as well as hours of impressive inter-office ping-pong.
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established nationally in 1995, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. For more information on GLSENís educational resources, public policy agenda, student organizing programs, research, public education or development initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.
The Advertising Council
The Ad Council (www.adcouncil.org) is a private, non-profit organization that marshals talent from the advertising and communications industries, the facilities of the media, and the resources of the business and non-profit communities to produce, distribute and promote public service campaigns on behalf of non-profit organizations and government agencies in issue areas such as improving the quality of life for children, preventive health, education, community well-being, environmental preservation and strengthening families.