Knock It Off with the Gay Language

The Ad Council, a public service announcement (PSA) organisation in the USA, has partnered with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network to launch “Knock It Off”, a series of three television commercials challenging the ways that people unwittingly use language to verbally harrass people from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender orientations. The campaign is online at and includes radio and magazine advertisements.

Teenagers in Ad Council So Gay Pharmacy commercial

Almost 90% of LGBT students report being verbally harassed at school because of their sexual orientation. LGBT teens experience homophobic remarks and harassment throughout the school day, creating an atmosphere where they feel disrespected, unwanted and unsafe. Homophobic remarks such as thats so gay are the most commonly heard; these slurs are often unintentional and a common part of teens vernacular. Most do not recognize the consequences, but the casual use of this language often carries over into more overt harassment.

The Knock It Off campaign aims to raise awareness about the prevalence and consequences of anti-LGBT bias and behavior in Americas schools. Ultimately, the goal is to reduce and prevent the use of homophobic language in an effort to create a more positive environment for LGBT teens. The campaign also aims to reach adults, including school personnel and parents. Their support of this message is crucial to the success of efforts to change behavior.

Teenagers in Ad Council So Gay Pizza Shop commercial

Pizza Shop

In Pizza Shop comedienne Wanda Sykes takes a moment out of enjoying a slice of pizza to school a group of teenaged boys at the table sitting next to her about their derogatory use of the phrase “that’s so gay.”

Click on the image below to play the video.


Pharmacy takes the message further. Emma and Julia are working the counter at a local drugstore when Julia makes fun of Emma’s strict curfew by saying it’s “so gay.” A customer in line overhears the exchange and challenges them to imagine how they would feel if their names were used in the same derogatory way they use the word gay.

Click on the image below to play the video.

Fitting Room

Fitting Room takes a stab at the same “gay” phrase as two tweens comment on a top looking “so totally gay”. Pop singer Hilary Duff suddenly turns the corner and offers up an eye-opening lesson – how would you like it if someone described you as something bad.

Click on the image below to play the video.

The message is clear: using the word “gay” when you mean something is dumb or stupid is insulting to people who are gay, so knock it off!


The Knock It Off campaign was developed at Arnold NYC by chief creative officer John Staffen, creative director/art director Gary Rozanski, creative director/copywriter Thom Baginski, and executive producer Anthony Migliaccio.

Filming was shot by director Kevin Smith via Backyard Films with director of photography Randy Arnold, executive producer Peter Steinzeig, producer Peter Keenan.

Editor was Nathan Byrne at Post Millennium with executive producer Adam Soutar,

Sound was designed by Peter Holcomb at Sound Lounge. Music was composed by Diner at The Lodge.