What is Heterosexism? Heterosexism is a belief system that values heterosexuality as inherently normal and superior. Heterosexism imposes heterosexual norms that individuals must follow to be considered normal, moral, and equal. Sex-roles are attitudes and activities that a society links to each sex. ○ Sex-roles govern emotional expression, career choice, dress, interests, etc.
Heterosexism and the LGBTCommunity Heterosexism has many devastating effects on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender or “LGBT” community. Although tolerance and acceptance of the LGBT community has slowly increased, the lives of members are still oppressed and discriminated against in many ways. Institutional heterosexism Hate crimes Depression and suicide (Caggiano, 2011) Substance abuse
Institutional Heterosexism Institutional Heterosexism is heterosexist bias built into the operation of society’s institutions. Prohibition of gay marriage Military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy Employment discrimination
Prohibition of gay marriage The laws that prohibit gay marriage deny homosexual couples 1,138 federal protections that are given to heterosexual couples by default. (Harris, 2009)
Military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”Policy Sexuality is not discussed. Homosexuals are prohibited from enlisting Individuals are discharged for disclosing their homosexuality or engaging in homosexual conduct Reasoning is that homosexuals “would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion”
Employment discrimination 35 states have no laws against employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity A study of 191 employers revealed that 18% would fire a gay individual 26% would not promote a qualified gay individual
Hate crime laws Only 21 states include sexual orientation in their hate crime laws Only 11 states include both sexual orientation and gender identity 13 states have no laws regarding hate crimes against sexual orientation and gender identity
Hate crimes Between 1991 and 2005 there were more than 15,000 reported hate crimes based on sexual orientation In 2009, 18.5% of hate crimes committed in the U.S. were based on sexual orientation A large number of hate crimes are not reported due to fear and embarrassment of the victims
Depression and suicide The LGBT community experience a higher quantity of suicidal ideation and attempts than heterosexuals. This is due to heterosexist messages that instill shame and cause depression. LGBT adolescents make up 63% of all suicide attempts
Substance abuse 20% - 25% of homosexuals are alcohol users Only 3% - 10% of the heterosexual population are alcohol users Other drugs, and cigarette smoking are also higher amongst the LGBT community Due to the instilled shame and poor self- perception, LGBT members turn to substance abuse to cope Substance abuse contributes to the shorter life expectancy of homosexual men
Human Services and LGBT The LGBT community needs assistance and advocates Human Service professions engage in institutional heterosexism due to a lack of information Not aware of LGBT issues Generalize as heterosexual Personal biases
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