I’m not easily ruffled by general vocabulary slang, though I’m also not naive to the occasional undertones. Still, the Divine Miss M surprised me this year and reminded me that even when we’re choosing to ignore them, words matter. M’s new school participates in a national program that helps schools establish student ally groups who develop projects to enhance appreciation of diversity, foster harmony amongst diverse groups, and combat intolerance, bullying and hate. The program covers The Big Five – race, religion, body shape/size, sexual orientation/gender expression or disabilities. When she got home from school one evening, Miss M was incredibly excited after she learned the program addresses not using the phrase “so gay” in a disparaging context. I had no idea that one, kids at her school in Oklahoma even used the phrase all that often and two, it bothered her to that extent, but apparently it did. She even brought it up in a speech she had to give in one class near the beginning of the school year in which they were required to introduce themselves in a substantive manner (I’m sure the assignment instructions were worded more eloquently, but that was the basic gist).
Learning this about my daughter made me far more aware of people’s word choice, including my own. Too often we have become … I’m not going to say immune because I don’t think it stops having an effect … idle, I guess, when it comes to taking care in our daily dialogue. In light of all that, you can understand why this video of a local Boulder activist that is currently sweeping the internet caught my eye, with the added bonus that it inherently highlights some of the things I love about this town. They call it the People’s Republic of Boulder for a reason.