Fighting Homophobia:Supporting LGBT College Students
Purpose of Presentation• To increase awareness of: – What sexuality is. – What sexual orientation is. – What homosexuality is. – What sexual fluidity is. – What same-sex relationships are like. – What homophobia is. – What heterosexual privilege is.• To increase awareness of the impact that anti-gay harassment and homophobia have on students.• To create a safe space for people to ask questions about LGBT issues.• To discuss how faculty can be better allies for LGBT people in schools and colleges.
Sexuality• Sexual orientation is one of four easily distinguishable components of sexuality; the other three are: – Biological sex (the anatomical, physiological, and genetic characteristics associated with being male or female). – Gender identity (the psychological sense of being male or female). – Social gender role (adherence to cultural norms for feminine and masculine behavior).
Each Component of Sexuality Exists Independently as a Continuum: BIOLOGICAL SEXmale intersex female GENDER IDENTITYman two-spirited woman SOCIAL GENDER ROLE (gender expression)masculine androgynous feminine SEXUAL ORIENTATIONattracted to women bisexual/asexual attracted to men
What is Sexual Orientation?• According to the American Psychological Association, sexual orientation is an enduring emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction that one feels toward men, women, or both sexes. – Sexual orientation also refers to a person’s sense of identity based on these attractions, related behaviors, and participation in a community of others who share these attractions. – These patterns of attraction often arise without any prior sexual experience. People can be celibate and still know their sexual orientation.
• Although sexual orientation ranges along a continuum, from exclusive attraction to the other sex to exclusive attraction to the same sex, three sexual orientations are commonly discussed: – Homosexuality is sexual and emotional attraction to people of the same sex. – Heterosexuality is sexual and … of the opposite sex. – Bisexuality is sexual and … of both sexes.
• Kinsey developed a 7-point scale of heterosexual and homosexual experience. Rating Description 0 Exclusively heterosexual 1 Mostly heterosexual, only incidentally homosexual 2 Mostly heterosexual, more than incidentally homosexual 3 Equally heterosexual and homosexual 4 Mostly homosexual, more than incidentally heterosexual 5 Mostly homosexual, only incidentally heterosexual 6 Exclusively homosexual X Asexual; Non-sexual
What is Sexual Fluidity?• While the majority of people experience a stable sexual “Males [people] do not orientation throughout their life, for represent two discrete others sexual orientation may be populations, heterosexual fluid and change over time. and homosexual. The world Perhaps the degree of sexual is not to be divided into sheep fluidity among people also ranges and goats. Not all things are along a continuum. black nor all things white. It is a fundamental of taxonomy that nature rarely deals with• In any case, most people discrete categories…The experience little or no sense of living world is a continuum in choice about their sexual each and every one of its orientation. Sexual orientation aspects.” – Alfred Kinsey cannot be changed at will.
• Sexual orientation is not synonymous with sexual behavior because orientation also includes feelings and self-concept.• Prejudice and discrimination make it difficult for many people to come to terms with their sexual orientation identities, so claiming a lesbian, gay, or bisexual identity may be a slow process. Therefore, individuals may or may not express their sexual orientation in their behaviors.
Situations Where Sexual Behavior ≠ Sexual Orientation• Jenny feels "different" growing up – she’s more interested in women than men. But her family is fiercely anti-gay, so she later finds a boyfriend, marries, has two kids and a house in the suburbs – until she meets a nurse named Shelia and finds herself deeply in love. Jenny suddenly remembers feeling “different” as a child...
.....Jenny realizes that she neverloved her husband like she lovesShelia. In fact, she never felt for anyman what she feels for this woman.She knows in her heart of heartsthat she is not bisexual – that she isa lesbian. She realizes that shesalways been a lesbian but has livedin denial up until now. Does thatmean that she was straight whenshe was married and she "turnedinto" a lesbian?
• John and Marilyn, both heterosexuals, decide to indulge in a fantasy in which he watches her have sex with another woman and then both women have sex with him. Does that mean that Marilyn is now a bisexual simply because she had sex with another woman one time?• Jack is in prison. While serving out his 20 year sentence, he has sex with several different men, but when he gets out, he never has sex with another man again. Does this mean he was gay while in prison and straight before and after his incarceration?
• Frank goes to a bar and has an argument with his boyfriend, Gene. Gene leaves and Frank is there alone. He keeps drinking until hes really drunk. A woman named Gail comes into the bar. Gails lonely and Franks drunk, so they end up going home together and having sex. Does that mean hes now bisexual since he had sex with Gail?
Other Problems with Definitions Based Solely on Sexual Behavior• Barring rape and molestation, we always have a choice with respect to sexual behavior. Therefore, sexual orientation defined by sexual behavior carries with it the subtle implication that orientation itself is a choice. Seeing "sexual orientation" and "being gay" as synonymous, many people "logically" conclude that being gay is a choice. However, nobody chooses with whom they fall in love, so nobody chooses their sexual orientation either.• Definitions based on sexual behavior debase the true nature of every committed relationship, especially gay ones. A committed relationship – whether straight or gay – is not simply a sexual relationship. In the context of a committed relationship, sex is one of many forms of expression of the love between the two individuals.
• Perhaps a better way to define sexual orientation is Heterosexual by whom one “falls in love” with – that is, whom • able to fall in love with someone only of the opposite sex one has enduring, romantic relationships with. Homosexual (gay or lesbian)• Helen Fisher of Rutgers University has proposed 3 • able to fall in love with someone only of the same sex. stages of falling in love – lust, attraction, and attachment – each driven Bisexual by different hormones and chemicals. • able to fall in love with either men or women.
“It seems to me that the realclue to your sex orientationlies in your romantic feelingsrather than in your sexualfeelings. If you are reallyGay, you are able to fall inlove with a man, not justenjoy having sex with him.” – Christopher Isherwood, quoted in "Christopher Isherwood Interview" with Winston Leyland (1973), from Conversations with Christopher Isherwood, ed. James J. Berg and Chris Freeman (2001).
Why The Total Number Of Gay People Cant Be Counted• Different studies define GLB people in different ways and researchers have yet to agree on a common definition. Is being gay a behavior? Does an attraction make one gay? Or, is being gay an identity?• Only those willing to identify can be counted. Not all GLB people identify as such (see first bullet) and not all GLB persons are willing to admit their sexual identity, attraction, or behavior to others, even anonymously.
• For example, in a randomized sample (N=35,595) of the 21- Characteristic Number % year-old men who were inducted into the Thai army in May 2011, Sexual behavior: most defined themselves as heterosexual, even if they mainly Exclusive MSF 29688 92.9 have sex with men. Bisexual 1930 6.0 Exclusive MSM 339 1.1 – It was conducted no more than two weeks after Sexual desire: induction and therefore Sex with women serving in the army had no 35041 98.6 only influence on the results. Sex with both – Men from all provinces in men and women 318 0.9 Thailand were included and Sex with men from both urban and rural 180 0.5 only areas.
Bisexual and• Among all bisexual and exclusive MSM Number % exclusive MSM, 83% (N=2271) identified as heterosexual, Education: i.e. desiring women only. > 10 yrs 1470 93.4 Even in exclusive MSM, only 21% said they desired men Graduate 104 6.6 exclusively and 31% both Sexual role for sex with men: men and women, meaning Top/Versatile 1192 95.1 that nearly half (48%) of men who had in fact only ever Bottom 62 4.9 had male sexual partners Sex in exchange for money: said they actually preferred women. No 1527 69.2 Ever 680 30.8
• The culturally-accepted way of being an MSM in Thailand, at least outside the urban gay scenes, has tended to be to become a Katoey (“ladyboy” or transgender). “Out” Kaoteys would likely be exempted from military service, until 2011 because they had a “mental disorder”, now changed to “gender identity disorder”. So this survey would tend to under-represent certain self-identified MSM.• This study shows the difference between surveying a self-selecting gay/MSM population – the Bangkok surveys have been conducted in gay clubs, STI clinics, and cruising areas – and looking at a truly random sample of Thai men to investigate sexuality.
Just the Facts• Gay sex does not equal anal sex. – In a survey published in April 2012 of 14,750 MSM ages 18 to 87, of whom 85.3% identified as homosexual, about 75 percent reported kissing, giving oral sex, and/or receiving oral sex in their most recent sexual encounters. Only 36 percent reported receiving anal sex and 34 percent reported giving it.• Homosexual men are not more likely to sexually abuse children than heterosexual men are.• No legitimate research has demonstrated that same-sex couples are any more or any less harmful to children than heterosexual couples.• Homosexual orientation or identity is not caused by childhood sexual abuse or deficient sex-role modeling by parents.• LGBT people live just as long as heterosexuals do.
• Gay men were victims of – not collaborators in – the Nazi Holocaust.• All major professional mental health organizations are on record as stating that homosexuality is not a mental disorder. – Higher rates of anxiety, depression, and depression-related illnesses and behaviors among LGBT people are due to the stress of being a member of a minority group in an often-hostile society ‒ and not LGBT identity itself.• Sexual orientation is not chosen, nor can it be changed at will. – A 2008 Swedish study of twins (the worlds largest twin study), which appeared in The Archives of Sexual Behavior, concluded that "[h]omosexual behaviour is largely shaped by genetics and random environmental factors.“ – "Reparative" or sexual reorientation therapy has been rejected by all the established and reputable American medical, psychological, psychiatric, and professional counseling organizations.
What is Prejudice?• Prejudice is a negative attitude or feeling toward people based on a misleading generalization about a group to which they belong. (Gordon Allport, 1954)• Prejudices are built into our social institutions, such as religion, government, electoral politics, education, and the media.• We are conditioned by messages from these institutions about how to see each other, how to relate to one another, and how to see ourselves – based on race, sex, ethnic or religious culture, disability, and sexual orientation.
What is Homophobia?• Homophobia (or sexual prejudice), in general, is a negative attitude or feeling based on a misleading generalized belief about lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. Allport (1954) defined five ways that prejudice can be expressed or acted upon: – Antilocution (name calling, stereotyping) – Avoidance (defamation by omission, exclusion) – Discrimination (refusal of service, denial of opportunity) – Physical Attack (threat of physical violence, murder) – Extermination (mass assassination, genocide)• We often overlook the more subtle actions and exclusions of sexual prejudice because they seem so insignificant by comparison. They are not.
Examples of Sexual PrejudiceIdentify Allport’s level of prejudiced action that each example matches.• Looking at an LGBT person and automatically thinking of her/his sexuality or gender rather than seeing her/him as a whole, complex person.• Failing to be supportive when your LGBT friend is sad about a quarrel or breakup.• Changing your seat in a meeting because an LGBT person sat in the chair next to yours.• Thinking you can “spot one.”• Being afraid to ask questions about LGBT issues when you dont know the answers.
Examples of Sexual PrejudiceIdentify Allport’s level of prejudiced action that each example matches.• Not asking about a womans female lover or a mans male lover although you regularly ask "How is your husband/wife?" when you run into a heterosexual friend.• Thinking that a lesbian (if you are female) or gay man (if you are male) is making sexual advances if she/he touches you.• Feeling repulsed by public displays of affection between lesbians and gay men but accepting the same affectional displays between heterosexuals.• Using the terms “lesbian” or “gay” as accusatory.
Examples of Sexual PrejudiceIdentify Allport’s level of prejudiced action that each example matches.• Feeling that discussions about homophobia are not necessary since you are "okay" on these issues.• Assuming that everyone you meet is heterosexual, and if not, they should be (also known as heterosexism).• Feeling that a lesbian is just a woman who couldnt find a man or that a lesbian is a woman who wants to be a man.• Feeling that a gay man is just a man who couldnt find a woman or that a gay man is a man who wants to be a woman.• Not confronting a homophobic remark for fear of being identified with or as LGBT.
Examples of Sexual PrejudiceIdentify Allport’s level of prejudiced action that each example matches.• Worrying about the effect an LGBT volunteer or coworker will have on your work or your clients.• Asking your LGBT colleagues to speak about LGBT issues, but not about other issues about which they may be knowledgeable.• Focusing exclusively on someones sexual orientation and not on other issues of concern.• Feeling that LGBT people are too outspoken about civil rights.
How Sexual Prejudice Hurts Everyone • You do not have to be LGBT – or know someone who is – to be negatively affected by sexual prejudice. Although it actively oppresses LGBT people, it also hurts heterosexuals.
Sexual Prejudice:• Compromises human integrity by pressuring people to treat others badly, actions that are contrary to their basic humanity.• Inhibits the ability of heterosexuals to form close, intimate relationships with members of their own sex, for fear of being perceived as LGBT.
Sexual Prejudice:• Is often used to stigmatize heterosexuals, those perceived or labeled by others to be LGBT, children of LGBT parents, parents of LGBT children, and friends of LGBTs. This makes it hard for straight people and LGBT people to be friends.• Is one cause of premature sexual involvement, which increases the chances of teen pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Young people, of all sexual identities, are often pressured to become heterosexually active to prove to themselves and others that they are "normal.”
Sexual Prejudice:• Prevents some LGBT people from developing an authentic self identity and adds to the pressure to marry, which in turn places undue stress and often times trauma on themselves as well as their heterosexual spouses, and their children.• Combined with sex-phobia, results in the invisibility or erasure of LGBT lives and sexuality in school-based sex education discussions, keeping vital information from students. Such erasures can kill people in the age of AIDS.
Sexual Prejudice:• Locks people into rigid gender- based roles that inhibit creativity and self expression.• Inhibits appreciation of other types of diversity, making it unsafe for everyone because each person has unique traits not considered mainstream or dominant. When any one of us is demeaned, we are all diminished.
What is Heterosexual Privilege?• Heterosexual privilege is the range of perks and incentives with which heterosexually identified persons are rewarded for conforming to the dominant sexuality. Coming to terms with privilege can be the most painful part of becoming an ally.
Examples of Heterosexual Privilege If you are heterosexual (or even simply perceived as heterosexual):• You can discuss your relationships and publicly acknowledge your partner (such as by having a picture of her/him on your desk) without fearing that people will automatically disapprove or think that you are being "blatant."• You do not have to worry about being mistreated by the police or victimized by the criminal justice system because of your orientation.• You can express affection (kissing, hugging, and holding hands) in most social situations and not expect hostile or violent reactions from others.• You are more likely to see sexually-explicit images of people of your orientation without these images provoking public consternation or censorship.
Examples of Heterosexual Privilege If you are heterosexual (or even simply perceived as heterosexual):• You can go wherever you want and know that you will not be harassed, beaten, or killed because of your orientation.• You can legally marry the person whom you love and you can receive tax breaks, health and insurance coverage, and spousal legal rights through being in a long-term relationship.• You can express yourself sexually without the fear of being prosecuted for breaking the law (sodomy laws were enforceable in 16 states and were used to deny civil rights to lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals until 2003).• You can expect to see people of your orientation positively presented on nearly every television show and in nearly every movie.
Examples of Heterosexual Privilege If you are heterosexual (or even simply perceived as heterosexual):• You can expect that your children will be given texts in school that implicitly support your kind of family unit and that they will not be taught that your orientation is a "perversion."• You can approach the legal system, social service organizations, and government agencies without fearing discrimination because of your orientation.• You can raise, adopt, and teach children without people believing that you will molest them or force them in to your orientation. Moreover, people generally will not try to take away your children because of your orientation.• You can belong to the religious denomination of your choice and know that your orientation will not be denounced by its religious leaders.
Examples of Heterosexual Privilege If you are heterosexual (or even simply perceived as heterosexual):• You can easily find a neighborhood in which residents will accept how you have constituted your household.• You know that you will not be fired from a job or denied a promotion because of your orientation.• You can join the military and be open about your orientation.• You can work in traditionally male- or female-dominated occupations without it being considered "natural" for someone of your orientation.
Examples of Heterosexual Privilege If you are heterosexual (or even simply perceived as heterosexual):• You can expect to be around others of your orientation most of the time. You do not have to worry about being the only one of your orientation in a class, on a job, or in a social situation.• If you were to commit a sexual crime (such as rape or incest), it would not be viewed as a direct result of your orientation.• You can teach about lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals without being seen as having a bias because of your orientation or forcing a "homosexual agenda" on students.• You can act, dress, and talk as you choose without it being considered a reflection on people of your orientation.
How to Support LGBT Students (from PFLAG)• Dont be surprised when someone comes out to you.• Respect confidentiality. It is imperative that you can be trusted.• Be informed. Most of us are products of a homophobic society. It is important that you are aware of the needs of LGBT students.• Examine your own biases. If you are uncomfortable with dealing with the issue, and know that you are unable to be open and accepting, you need to refer the student to someone else.• Know when and where to seek help. Know all available resources.• Dont try to guess whos LGBT.
• Maintain a balanced perspective. Sexual thoughts and feelings are only a small (but important) part of a persons self.• Understand the meaning of "sexual orientation" and "gender identity." Each persons sexual orientation is natural to that person.• Deal with feelings first. You can be helpful by just listening and allowing LGBT students the opportunity to vent feelings.• Help, but dont force. LGBT people need to move at the pace they feel most comfortable with.• Challenge bigoted remarks and jokes. This shows support.
• Be supportive. Share with them that this is an issue that others must deal with, too.• Make sure a copy of Working with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender College Students: A Handbook for Faculty and Administrators (Sanlo, 1998) is available for reference in your workplace.
Resources• Challenging Homophobia: An educators resource. (www.challenginghomophobia.net)• American Psychological Association: Sexual orientation and homosexuality. (www.apa.org/helpcenter/sexual-orientation.aspx)• Assault on Gay America: The life and death of Billy Jack Gaither. (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/assault/)• Definitions: Homophobia, heterosexism, and sexual prejudice. (http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/html/prej_defn.html)• Queer Peer Services (www.ramapo.edu/students/qps/index.html)• Gordon Allport, The Nature of Prejudice (1954).• Ronni L. Sanlo, Working with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender College Students: A Handbook for Faculty and Administrators (Greenwood Press, 1998).• Joe Kort, “Straight Men Who Have Sex with Men (SMSM)”, glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture, www.glbtq.com/social- sciences/straight_men_who.html (2008), accessed 2 March 2010.• Ian Ayres and Jennifer Brown, Straightforward: How to Mobilize Heterosexual Support for Gay Rights, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005)