The use of the word "gay" as a schoolyard insult has been common in the U.S. since at least the late 1970s, but has only gained currency in Britain in the past several years, according to this article. A survey by the British Association of Teachers and Lecturers found "gay" is the most commonly heard slur. However, many students interviewed said the word has become a substitute for "lame" and is not meant as a pejorative against gays and lesbians.

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