Education best way to combat homophobic attitudes

Janine Fagan

Janine Fagan

“Hey faggot, can’t you see I am talking you?”

Imagine looking out of your window to see a random truck in your driveway. As your suspicion rises and you see a group of hicks spitting on your car and only because of a sticker on your bumper.

Homophobia is a word used to describe discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.

Homophobia is the fear and hatred of homosexuals and people to be perceived to be homosexual. Amazingly homophobia exists everywhere and a large percentage of people are homophobic. Students on the SDSU campus may be no exception. Doctors, priests, family, friends, teachers, Boy Scouts of America, celebrities, politicians, and even the President of the United States can all participate in the homophobic attitudes of our day-to-day society.

When considering homophobia, it is important to look at the differences between prejudice and discrimination.

Many people, including college students, may have prejudice attitudes or stereotypes of gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender people. They may not necessarily act on these prejudices in a way that would interfere with the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.

Rainbow Connections is an on campus organization set up to support the small community of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students.

“It is very important for us to have a support group, Rainbow Connection, here on campus. It gives people a sense of belonging and community, along with the fact that they can make friends with others in their same situation,” said Angela Baxter, president of Rainbow Connections.

When trying to describe or understand homophobic attitudes there are many aspects to look at that influence how people think. Environmental surroundings play a huge role in the progression of people attitudes.

Certain groups within society may influence and increase a person’s level of homophobia. Religious activists and Mormons provide a good example of extreme homophobic attitudes by not tolerating homosexuality within their churches.

Home is another aspect to consider. People tend to be the product of their parents beliefs; therefore, if their parents have homophobic attitudes, they are more likely to have homophobic attitudes themselves.

“There are a lot of homophobic attitudes, but it is more our region because it is very rural and not the campus itself,” Baxter said. “The students on campus are much more accepting and I have not been victim of any discrimination here at SDSU. There is a lot of homophobia because students fear the unknown and have been brought up to look at it as wrong, so they are afraid of it.”

Homophobic attitudes towards homosexual males seem to be more common among heterosexual males than heterosexual females, according to recent studies. In spite of this, other findings found that attitudes about homosexual females do not differ between male and female heterosexuals.

An explanation of homophobia is described as a fear factor.

Many men believe they have to be homophobic in order to prove their masculinity. Their behavior towards homosexuality is a way of showing others they are not gay.

Studies have shown that many people with homophobic attitudes often have same sex attractions themselves (Adams, Wright & Lohr 1996). It is a possibility as people begin to realize their sexuality they may go into denial and start to develop a homophobic attitude, which acts as their defense mechanism.

A survey from the National Mental Health Association (NMHA) provides clear evidence that bullying and other harassments towards gay teens or those perceived to be gay is common in American schools and society.

The introduction of human sexuality courses to college curriculums may help reduce homophobic attitudes among many students.

“There are a number of reasons for homophobia, or fear of homosexuality, but I think much of it is born out of misunderstand or lack of understanding. By discussing sexual orientation, my intent is not to make students accept homosexuality, even if it is against their moral values, but rather to respect the dignity of gay men and lesbian woman and to understand life from a gay perspective, which still includes discrimination and harassment,” said Cindi Penor Ceglian, professor of human sexuality. “I also hope they understand that homosexuality is also about relationships, not just sex, which is, in fact, a small part of a person’s lifestyle.”

Is ignorance what breeds homophobia? To educate society about homosexuality may help to decrease homophobia.

Many people who are unfamiliar or inexperienced in having gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in their lives form very narrow stereotypes. Numerous people stereotype gay men as feminine and lesbians as masculine and they fail to realize how mistaken or far off the mark they actually are. Consequently, there are many feminine gay men and butch “manly” women, but to only have that image is like saying all priests are pedophiles and all Asian people are terrorists.

“Although we can pass legislation, including nondiscrimination and hate statues, social science research indicates that people’s attitudes are most significantly influenced by their interactions,” Penor Ceglian said. “After lecturing about sexual orientation, I invite members of the gay and lesbian community to my class to speak about their lives. Interacting with someone puts a face and a personality on a label, which in turn helps them empathize.”

The effects of homophobia within society can be deadly. Homophobia causes people to hurt or even kill members of their communities. The leading cause of death among gay teenagers is suicide; this fact alone shows just how the consequences of discrimination by homophobic attitudes can cause destruction on our society.

It is time to realize just how much homophobic attitudes contribute to the destruction of many lives of many people in our communities.

To be different or to love same sex people does not threaten masculinity of males, nor does it threaten religious beliefs.

It allows each individual person to find peace and love in their lives.

Trying to ignore or hide homophobia will only cause more destruction and discrimination within our culture and the problem will not disappear until people find a way to stop the pervasive attitudes associated with homophobia. Homophobia does not just affect homosexuals it affects everyone.