Ad Council/GLSEN launch youth campaign

NEW YORK: The Ad Council introduced its first campaign focusing on LGBT issues on October 8, partnering with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). The campaign and its PSAs, which feature actress Hilary Duff and comedian Wanda Sykes, encourage teenagers to think before they speak and stop using anti-LGBT language.

NEW YORK: The Ad Council introduced its first campaign focusing on LGBT issues on October 8, partnering with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). The campaign and its PSAs, which feature actress Hilary Duff and comedian Wanda Sykes, encourage teenagers to think before they speak and stop using anti-LGBT language.

The campaign was developed after GLSEN conducted its 2007 National School Climate Survey found that 90% of LGBT teens have heard that phrase, "That's so gay," used as a put-down in their school. The group has been conducting the survey every two years since 1999. In 2003 and 2005 it also asked about the prevalence of the term, and in 2003 it was 89.5% and in 2005, 89.2%.

Kevin Jennings, founder and executive director of GLSEN, said that there's a perception that things are getting better, but in fact, such name-calling is still prominent.

"The goal of our campaign is to target the use of anti-LGBT language, beginning with the phrase ‘That's so gay,'" Jennings said, "and to raise awareness among young people that this language is unacceptable."

Duff unveiled the PSAs at GLSEN's Respect Awards on October 10 and print, radio, outdoor, and Web ads will be introduced in coming weeks. In addition to ThinkB4YouSpeak.com, the campaign is using social networks like Facebook and YouTube to reach the target audience of heterosexual 13- to 16-year-olds.

The media outreach includes a radio tour for Jennings, exclusives with The New York Times and Good Morning America on October 8, and Duff discussing the campaign during interviews for her upcoming movie.

Because the PSAs were only introduced on Friday, Ellyn Fisher, director of corporate communications for the Ad Council, said the response the groups have seen, including more than 8,000 hits to the Web site on the first day, are a direct result of the PR.

"Because of the PR alone, there is so much awareness, there is so much conversation," she said. "If you look at the blogs, all the teens have been so supportive."

The campaign was also timed to hit right before GLSEN's Ally Week, October 13 to 17, when students pledge not to use anti-LGBT language and to speak up if they do hear it, Jennings said. The campaign will also introduce resources for teachers in the coming months.

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