What's behind LGBT discrimination?
We’ve long since known that people who discriminate against LGBTQ persons do so because of personally held belief systems. But beyond subscribing to religious doctrine, what beliefs factor into their behaviors?
According to a new study that has been released in the peer reviewed Journal of Homosexuality, the intent to discriminate is very much connected to rather or not a person believes LGBT persons became so because of biological reasons.
Investigators studied 997 heterosexual adults found that people who agreed with statements like “Sexual orientation is caused by biological factors” and “Homosexuals have probably existed throughout human history” were less likely to say they would discriminate against homosexual people.
Those who agreed with statements like “Sexual orientations are categories with clear and sharp boundaries”, on the other hand, were more likely to indicate they would discriminate.
Examples of discrimination included not voting for a homosexual candidate in elections and asking for a child to be transferred to another class because the teacher was homosexual.
Aleksandra Huic, one of the study authors, shared in a recent interview about this study the following:
“What we believe about homosexual orientation is linked to how we intend to treat gay men and lesbian women,” Huic shared. “People who think of sexuality in terms of discrete categories — e.g. who believe people are either gay or straight — tend to harbor more prejudice against LGs and discriminate against them more.
“The same is true for those who think homosexuality is a choice, and something which can be cured, and for those who negate its universality.”
He went to share:
“On the other hand, those whose views of sexual orientation are more in line with scientific facts — who view sexuality as a continuum, who believe sexual orientation is immutable (to quote Lady Gaga ‘Born this way’), and that it is universal (there are examples of homosexuality in all animal species, throughout history) harbor less prejudice and discriminate less,” Huic said.
The research is not without limitations.
“Our research focused on behavioral intentions, not real-life behavior in everyday situations, and more research is needed to see whether our results generalize to those,” Huic explained.
“The study has important practical implications, suggesting that we should educate people about sexual orientation in order to increase their tolerance for gay men and lesbian women. Future studies should come up with scientifically based educational programs and evaluate their impact.”
“Furthermore, there are other sexual minorities — e.g. bisexual women and men and transgender persons — which we didn’t focus on in this study, and who also live in negative social contexts.”