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Madonna Professor Studies the Surrender of Slurs in Today’s Society

Elizabeth Prough, Ph.D.“That’s Gay! Gay as a Slur Among College Students” Forthcoming in Sage Open- a peer reviewed open access journal.

The context and meaning of words and phrases develop and change over time and in recent years; the use of the word “gay” has been most commonly used as a synonym for stupid, dumb or awful. This colloquialism is prevalent in our culture and therefore has lost its derogatory meaning. No longer considered a slur, people are no longer offended by its use.

Using an original data set collected from four Midwestern universities, this paper examines the characteristics of those college students who perceive the word gay to be a slur or who are offended. We find that those individuals who report having more gay friends are more likely to take offense at the use of the word gay as a slur even after controls are instituted. We also find that, contrary to expectations, attendance at religious services appears to have a direct relationship, with more frequent attenders more likely to express offense at the use of gay as a slur. We offer suggestions as to why some college students perceive the word to be a slur while a majority of college students do not.

Authors of the journal include Robert Postic, Ph.D., an associate professor at the University of Findlay and Elizabeth Prough, Ph.D., an associate professor at Madonna University.