HRC Blog

Students at Duke University Want You to Think Before You Speak

Post submitted by Delia Albert, HRC Communications Intern 

Students at Duke University are taking a stand against anti-LGBT language through the “You Don’t Say” Campaign.

 According to the groups’ Facebook page, the goal of the project is to “foster dialogue on the intersection of language, and gender and sexual identities.”

The photo campaign was created by two student organizations at Duke: Think Before You Talk, an organization determined to bring awareness to the misuse of language, and Blue Devils United, an undergraduate LGBTQ group.

The black and white photos of students explain why they don’t use phrases such as “man up,” and "tranny", pointing out how these words can marginalize groups that don’t fit traditional labels or gender norms.

Students Daniel Kort, Anuj Chhabra, Christie Lawrence and Jay Sullivan created the campaign after discussing why people are offended by these words in everyday conversations, according to CNN.

While the campaign initially highlighted language relevant to sexual and gender minorities, the students are currently broadening efforts to apply to other identities, such as race and physical and mental ability.

These photos which will be taken during “You Don’t Say’s” inaugural tour of universities, organizations, businesses and conferences in the fall.

HRC recognizes the importance of language and how it can affect LGBT youth in America. Verbal harassment can be a serious form of bullying making students feel unsafe at school.

Growing up LGBT in America, HRC’s survey of more than 10,000 LGBT identified youth, demonstrates the importance of a child’s well-being to success later in life.

A 2009 GSLEN survey of 7,261 students reported that nine out of 10 LGBTQ students are harassed because of their sexual orientation; two-thirds of the students surveyed felt unsafe.

HRC continues to work on ending name-calling and bullying through our Welcoming Schools Program, which focuses on embracing family diversity and avoiding gender stereotyping.

For more information on the “You Don’t Say” Campaign, visit facebook.com/youdontsaycampaign

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