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Transcript of LGBT Stereotypes
and How to Avoid Them
Typical Gay/Lesbian Stereotypes
"Gay men are less masculine, lesbian women are less feminine"
"Homosexuals are promiscuous"
"It's all about sex"
"Homosexuals want to convert you"
"Gay men/lesbian women are more attracted to straight people"
"Gay men tend to like stereotypically feminine activities, and lesbian women tend to like more masculine activities"
"Gays/lesbians want to be the center of attention/you to know that they are gay"
"Transgenders are just confused"
Breaking Down Stereotypes
This can be exceptionally challenging, as the stereotypes are everywhere, and not just with LGBT stereotypes either.
As ridiculous as some of these stereotypes sound, a staggering percentage of the population believes them.
LGBT stereotypes present in modern movies, television, books and even educational literature don't make it easier. LGBT characters are also often cast as villains and/or comic relief.
Thank you for dispelling stereotypes!
Sources: Chung, S. K. (2007). Media literacy art education: Deconstructing lesbian and gay stereotypes in the media. International Journal of Art & Design Education, 26(1), 98-107.
Educating about Stereotypes
Improving School Climate
What else we can do...
To try and apply a blanket statement to an entire portion of the population is demeaning and takes away from the uniqueness of an individual.
This applies to all multicultural groups, not just LGBT students.
Let's examine a few specific stereotypes:
"Gay men are less masculine and lesbian women less feminine"/"Gay men like feminine activities and lesbians like masculine activities" - Gays and lesbians are a microcosm of the world population and run the gamut of masculinity and femininity just as the straight population does. There are gay and lesbian athletes, artists, and businesspeople. To force a group into a mold damages our appreciation of the individual.
"It's all about sex/homosexuals want to convert you"- This is a damaging stereotype as utilizes fear and perceived difference to ostracize a group. Just like every other human on the planet, sex is only one small facet of everyday life. LGBT students take classes, have families, may have jobs, and take part in activities the same as their straight classmates of which sexual orientation has no impact on.
"Transgenders are confused" - This stereotypes belittles the struggle and major life decision of being openly transgender. On the contrary, transgender people are so sure of their gender's misalignment with their physical self that they take steps to align the two in the face of what is still intense social prejudice.
Stereotypes exist across all cultures and cultural groups in print, film, art and pretty much every medium. Education about stereotypes is a necessity so that students recognize that one person or group does not necessarily fit in to a certain socially defined mold for that individual. As a result, perhaps these same students will also realize that they don't have to fit the cookie cutter assigned to them by society, and will be more appreciative of themselves and others. Breaking down these social barriers starts with education.
Counselors are often expected to visit the classroom and even deliver lessons on content pertinent to a school's situation or social climate. In many schools, the climate is a hostile one for LGBT students, and many LGBT students feel unsafe or have even missed school as a result. Counselors can do their part acting as a resource to students and faculty alike, hosting workshops and spending time in classrooms educating students about the social, emotional, and physical effects of stereotypes and the consequences of bullying and harassment.
Gay-straight alliances (GSA's) are growing in availability in many school districts, but only a small percentage of schools actually have them. GSA's are extracurricular clubs made up of both gay and straight students with the mission of improving the safety and social climate of the school and promoting equality for all students regardless of orientation. Studies show that schools with GSA's have far less hostile climates for LGBT students, and that the achievement gap is improved.
Stereotypes damage people as individuals by robbing them of their individuality. Stereotypes are damaging, but are also self perpetuating. We as educators should do our best to dispel stereotypes through education and confrontation. There are numerous stereotypes applied to the LGBT community, most of which are dispersed and accepted in communities or groups that are unfamiliar or lack understanding of LGBT students. Counselors have many opportunities to help their school and improve school climate through education, or the forming of a Gay-Straight Alliance.