Posted by Mary Fletcher Jones
Today, I received a comment on my March 17 Ad Council post that was basically unrelated to my point, but gave me the opportunity to make an important point about my personal beliefs, as well as my company’s business practices.
The issue today was a public service announcement sponsored by GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network). You may have seen these. They are part of the “Think Before You Speak” campaign created by the Ad Council for the nonprofit organization, and they discourage the use of the word “gay” as a negative adjective. The commenter thought the PSAs were funded by the federal government and that they were possibly infringing on his right to free speech. The campaign is not funded by the government; it’s funded by the nonprofit organization. Also, no PSA, federally funded or not, can take away a person’s right to anything, because all a PSA can do is influence someone to change their behavior. It can’t compel, intimidate, or penalize a person for not responding to the call to action.
He also called the advertisements “gay.” Although that usage tempted me to delete his comment, as I will delete comments I find abusive, I let it stand so I could inform him of his mistake, and also my point of view.
The public service announcements are particularly targeted at students, and the campaign is designed to raise awareness about bullying and harassment in schools. I find it notable as an advertising vehicle because it gives teens the words to use so that they can confront their peers who engage in hurtful speech. So I think it’s an admirable use of call to action.
For the record, Fletcher Prince supports safe and affirming schools and workplaces for all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. And we never use, nor do we support the use of, the word “gay” to mean something negative or derogatory, in our personal or business practices.
Nationwide, schools will be observing a day of silence on April 20, 2012 to recognize the importance of respect for all students, regardless of sexual orientation, including the 90% of LGBT students who have been harassed at school for being who they are. Please take a moment today to watch and share the public service announcements.
- Create the next ThinkB4YouSpeak PSA for GLSEN and the AdCouncil! (uchicagolgbtq.wordpress.com)
- Bet you didn’t know: the Ad Council and public service campaigns (fletcher-prince.com)
- Video | GLSEN, Ad Council announce ‘Think Before You Speak’ TV ads to air at Super Bowl XLVI (miamiherald.typepad.com)