Heterosexism is the devaluation of what is not heterosexual. For example, some individuals believe that being gay is abnormal and something to be pitied or cured, while heterosexuality is the "right" way to be. Others persist in thinking that gays, lesbians and bisexuals are immoral or sick. Yet the American Physiological Association and the American Psychiatric Association declared over two decades ago that homosexuality is not a mental disorder or psychiatric problem. A more subtle form of heterosexism is evident when people assume everyone they meet is straight and eventually wants to marry. Different sexual orientations are treated as if they don't exist, at least "not at my school," church, town, etc.
Homophobia is the irrational fear and dislike of lesbians and gay men. Homophobic jokes, anti-gay graffiti, threats and intimidation as well as assaults against bisexuals, lesbians, and gay men are sad reminders of the fear, bias and hatred in American Culture. Bisexuals face unique discrimination since they are often viewed as outsiders by both gay and straight individuals.
Heterosexism and homophobia are cultural forces that distort perceptions of reality; these must be understood and challenged, along with similar prejudices against class, gender, race, ethnicity, disability, and age.
"Lesbian, gay, bisexual and trangender students need to both know that Bucknell can be both a challenging and supportive environment. The university community is committed to creating a safe space for all students to flourish. It is the responsibility of each of us to help create a safe and welcoming environment for Bucknell community members of all sexual/gender orientations."
Andrew Dunlap, LSW
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