There have now been several incidents at Fort Lewis College over the past academic year involving swastikas or hate speech such as homophobic threats being written on walls in dormitories or bathrooms around our campus. The FLC Psychology Department has issued the following statement, which includes the latest scientific research on prejudice and on sexual orientation. Since 1975, the American Psychological Association (2008) has called on psychologists to take the lead in removing the stigma that has long been associated with lesbian, gay, transgendered, or bisexual orientations.
What does the science show about homosexuality?
Research has found no inherent association between any sexual orientation and psychopathology (Zera, 1992; Zinik, 1985). Both heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality (APA Division 44, 2000). Both have been documented in many different cultures and historical eras (Parker & DeCecco, 1995). Several decades of research have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience (Lasser & Gottlieb, 2004).
What role do prejudice and discrimination play in the lives of lesbian, gay, transgendered, and bisexual people?
Lesbian, gay, transgendered, and bisexual people in the United States encounter extensive prejudice, discrimination, and violence because of their sexual orientation (Zera, 1992). More recently, public opinion has increasingly opposed sexual orientation discrimination, but expressions of hostility toward LGBTQ people remain common in American society (Morrison & Morrison, 2011).
What is the psychological impact of prejudice and discrimination on all people?
Prejudice and discrimination have social and personal impact on everybody. On the social level, they are often used to excuse unequal treatment of people. For example, limitations on academic or job opportunities, parenting, and relationship recognition are often justified by inaccurate stereotypic assumptions about people from diverse or minority groups (Pichler, 2012; Gaines, 2012).
On an individual level, such prejudice and discrimination may also have negative consequences, especially if LGBTQ people attempt to conceal or deny their sexual orientation or other diverse groups cannot celebrate their culture (Sawyer et al., 2011). Social support is crucial in coping with stress, but discrimination may make it difficult for members of any diverse group to find such support.
What can you do if you feel prejudiced towards people who are different from you in some way?
Prejudice also impacts the person who experiences those feelings (Chin, 2010). Psychologists have found that most prejudice arises out of fear, lack of knowledge, or childhood environment (Bodenhausen & Richeson, 2010). One of the main goals of FLC as a compelling educational experience is to break down those barriers and increase contact among diverse individuals. If you need assistance to take full advantage of your experience here at FLC, please see an advisor, counselor, staff, or faculty member.
What are we going to do about it at Fort Lewis College?
In light of the research on this and other forms of discrimination, the FLC Psychology Department is calling on all FLC students, staff, and faculty to sign this petition stating that we will NOT tolerate such hateful or threatening acts toward ANY of our community members. FLC’s mission statement clearly indicates we are an institution open to all that does not discriminate on the basis of race, age, color, religion, national origin, gender disability, sexual orientation, political beliefs, or veteran status. We honor the Resolution of Respect passed by ASFLC students in 2011, Striving for Common Ground, which states that we aspire to respect the values of our unique and diverse learning and living environment. We will do everything in our power to promote a campus climate of respect, civility, and acceptance of diversity in all its splendor, because that is what makes FLC such a stimulating, safe, and enriching place to study and work.
American Psychological Association. (2008). Answers to your questions: For a better
understanding of sexual orientation and homosexuality. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/sexual-orientation.aspx
Bodenhausen, G. V., & Richeson, J. A. (2010). Prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination. In R. Baumeister & E. J. Finkel (Eds.), Advanced social psychology: The state of the science. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 341-383.
Chin, J. L. (2010). The psychology of prejudice and discrimination: A revised and condensed edition. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.
Division 44/Committee on Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Concerns Joint Task Force. (2000). Guidelines for psychotherapy with lesbian, gay, and bisexual clients. American Psychologist, 55, 1440–1451.
Gaines, S. O. (2012). Stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination revisited: From William James to W.E.B. Du Bois. In J. Dixon & M. Levine (Eds.), Beyond prejudice: Extending the social psychology of conflict, inequality and social change. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 105-119.
Lasser, J. S., & Gottlieb, M. C. (2004). Treating Patients Distressed Regarding Their Sexual Orientation: Clinical and Ethical Alternatives. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 35, 194-200.
Morrison, M. A., & Morrison, T. G. (2011). Sexual orientation bias toward gay men and lesbian women: Modern homonegative attitudes and their association with discriminatory behavioral intentions. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 41, 2573-2599.
Parker, D. A., & DeCecco, J. P. (1995). Sexual expression: A global perspective. Journal of Homosexuality, 28, 427–430.
Pichler, S. (2012). Sexual orientation harassment: An integrative review with directions for future research. In S. Fox & T. R. Lituchy (Eds.), Gender and the dysfunctional workplace. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing, 135-148.
Sawyer, P. J., et al. (2011). Discrimination and the stress response: Psychological and physiological consequences of anticipating prejudice in interethnic interactions. American Journal of Public Health, 102, 1020-1026.
Zera, D. (1992). Coming of age in a heterosexist world: The development of gay and lesbian adolescents. Adolescence, 27, 849–854.
Zinik, G. (1985). Identity conflict or adaptive flexibility? Bisexuality reconsidered. Journal of Homosexuality, 11, 7–19.