Homophobia: Definition, effects on health, seeking help, and more – Medical News Today

Posted: February 13, 2021 at 10:50 pm


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Homophobia, or heterosexism, refers to the assumption that everyone should be, or is, heterosexual.

This can result in serious forms of prejudice against those who experience same-sex attraction.

In this article, we will be replacing the term homophobia with heterosexism. This is because homophobia places an emphasis on the irrational fears of an individual as opposed to the systems in place that affect a persons health.

Heterosexism does not refer to the prejudice and discrimination related to a persons gender identity, or cissexism.

Learn more about cissexism here.

Understanding what heterosexism is can help people identify it and oppose it when they see it, if it is safe to do so.

In this article, we explore what heterosexism is, what internalized heterosexism means, and how to be an ally. We also look at the definition of outing and how heterosexism can affect a persons health.

Homophobia, or heterosexism, is the assumption that people should be, or are, heterosexual.

Planned Parenthood note that it is the fear, mistrust, hatred, or discomfort toward those who experience same-sex attraction.

It can also take many different forms, ranging from the use of negative and offensive language, to more extreme forms, including bullying, abuse, and physical violence.

Additionally, homophobia can present in the form of systematic oppression. A person can experience discrimination from the government, religious institutions, and other businesses. Examples include:

A person may exhibit homophobic tendencies or thoughts due to their upbringing or conservative religious beliefs.

Internalized heterosexism is a term that refers to those who experience same-sex attraction, yet harbor negative feelings and views about their sexuality.

They can turn their negative feelings in on themselves and struggle to come to terms with their sexual orientation.

They may express this conflict in the following ways:

Outing is the practice of making a public statement about a persons sexuality or gender status without their permission.

This can negatively affect peoples lives and result in them being the subject of abuse, discrimination, and in some cases, physical violence.

Heterosexism can affect peoples mental and physical health in many ways.

Systematic heterosexism can also limit a persons access to high-quality healthcare and make it difficult to get health insurance.

LGBTQIA+ individuals may also find it difficult to tell their clinicians about their sexual identity.

A study found that 68% of LGBTQIA+ youth stated that they did not report their sexual orientation to their clinicians, while 90% reported having reservations about doing so. This means that people may not be receiving culturally competent healthcare.

The research notes this lack of communication can result in:

Heterosexism can also occur at home and in schools.

The Youth Risk and Behavior Survey (YRBS) is a cross-sectional, school-based survey that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conduct every 2 years.

The 2019 YRBS found that of the lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth surveyed:

In addition, those who experience same-sex attraction are likely to experience rejection by their families.

The CDC note that those who experience familial rejection were more likely to:

Experiencing discrimination in any setting can have a huge impact on a persons health.

The CDC note that experiencing discrimination can lead to:

Mental Health America report that LGBTQIA+ people use mental health services at 2.5 times the rate of the general population.

If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours per day at 800-273-8255. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can call 800-799-4889.

Click here for more links and local resources.

Help is available for people who are experiencing heterosexism.

There are Gay/Straight Alliances, or GSA clubs, in middle and high schools and affiliated with college campuses. These organizations give LGBTQIA+ young people the chance to get support, build community, and take action on issues that matter to them.

Many communities have LGBTQIA+ community centers striving to meet the wide-ranging needs of their people. According to CenterLink, a service organization for LGBTQIA+ community centers, there are more than 250 such centers across the United States, serving 2 million people.

People who cannot access a community center or GSA club can still find a wide range of support online, such as:

Learn more about the mental health resources available here.

Being an ally means being a vocal supporter of the LGBTQIA+ community, and this support relates to a persons actions as well as their words.

Individuals interested in making an organizational commitment to fighting homophobia can explore the options available with LGBTQIA+ support organizations.

Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, or PFLAG, have more than 400 chapters and 200,000 members across the country.

PFLAG programs include online learning, advocacy, publications, and media training to promote pride and inclusion.

People can also:

People can also speak out when they witness heterosexism, for example, when a person makes an offensive joke or bullies others.

If an individual decides to address heterosexism, they should ensure that it is safe to do so.

Some factors to consider might include:

Heterosexism is a form of prejudice against those who experience same-sex attraction.

It can make it difficult for those who experience same-sex attraction to get healthcare or jobs. It can also have negative effects on a persons mental and physical health. However, there are many different support services available.

Straight people can be allies and take a stand against heterosexism.

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Homophobia: Definition, effects on health, seeking help, and more - Medical News Today

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February 13th, 2021 at 10:50 pm

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