Heterosexism refers to the system that condones discrimination, bias and negative attitudes towards the LGBT community. Within a society that condones heterosexism, there is systematic favor of heterosexual and opposite-sex relationships. As a result, lesbians, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals face systematic discrimination and oppression. These individuals are viewed as though they live outside the stereotyped role of feminine and masculine individuals. The society appears to impose policies and practices that conform to the stereotypical role and will not agree to any practice that appears to go against it since it is contrary to the norm. The LGBT community is seen as being made up of second-class citizens who are not fit to belong to the normal society.
Homophobia is a blanket term for a wide range of attitudes that are directed towards homosexuality. It is a fear that is unreasonable, of being homosexual. In fact, this means that the people who are homosexual are afraid of coming out because of the fear of being homosexual. For others, the term suggests the fear or hatred of those within the LGBT community. The negative attitudes and feelings are directed towards the idea of homosexuality or the individuals perceived or categorized as being part of the LGBT community (lesbians, gay people, bisexual, and transgender). In this case, feelings may entail antipathy, aversion, prejudice, hatred, or contempt. Homophobia is obvious in antagonistic behaviors like discrimination and aggression founded on non-heterosexual sexual behaviors.
The History of the Gay, Lesbian Struggle as a Political Movement
The political movement founded on the struggle for the rights of gay and lesbian has its roots in a gay rights group in France. The group was fighting for the eradication of the classification of homosexuality as a mental illness by the World Health Organization, offering compensation for the gay individuals who were victim of Nazism, provision of asylum for victims of violence due to homosexuality, and global recognition of the violence perpetrated against gay people. The movement was, basically, initiated for the purpose of eradicating discrimination, globally, based on homosexuality. The beginning of the movement was founded on the view of the homosexuals (gays and lesbians) as a minority group prone to discrimination.
At the same time, there were other gay persons who believed that they had the same rights as any other person, and thus, they were not a minority group. Just like other minority communities were fighting for their equal rights in society, the political movement was founded on the need to have their rights respected. They were also fighting to be assimilated into the mainstream society, to a place where they would not suffer any discrimination. A breakthrough was attained in 1974 following the signing of the federal Gay and Lesbian Civil Rights Bill. There were other areas where discrimination was pervasive, including in marriage, adoption, custody, and foster care. The political movement was meant to end all forms of discrimination and advance the rights.
The Challenge of Being Black and Gay
The Blacks in the United States have faced a history of discrimination. They are categorized as a minority group within the society. In fact, this aspect has set a stage for oppression as they come into contact with the whites. Indeed, this brings up a high level of complexity in the relationship between the blacks and gays. Being black and gay in the country presents a huge challenge for the gay individuals. It appears as though the blacks tend to emulate the oppressor and perform the same level of oppression against the other “minority” within their community, the gay. As a result, the gay within the community experience a higher level of oppression, stigmatization, and discrimination than in the white community.
Being gay and black is not easy, especially in a society that views homosexuality as an abomination that deserves the punishment such as AIDS. The blacks are more likely to be against the gay rights and gay equality. The blacks are against the alignment of the rights of the gay to the civil rights which advanced the rights of the blacks. From the perspective that they are being seen as stealing the limelight of the civil rights, the gay are viewed in a negative aspect. Homophobia and gay intolerance is worse amongst the black community explaining why the black gays are more disadvantaged among any other community in the United States.
How Schools Continue to Ignore Gays, Lesbians and Transgender People
While schools have been forced to speak about the controversial sex-related topics because of AIDS openly, the issue of homosexuality has continued to be avoided and ignored. Evidently, the school is not prepared to deal with the issue of homosexuality, regardless the fact that there are students who are homosexual and are discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. There are only few metropolitan schools that are providing support for the homosexuals while others have failed to give the much-needed assistance for the students, some who are confused about their sexual reality. Administrators in most schools behave as though they are not aware of the existence of gay students in their schools. Some act as though the gay students are not in need of any assistance from the school. Counselors are in place to provide the necessary support for the gay students, but they also do not seem to be there to help. The reality is reflected in the outcome for the students due to the lack of support, including depression, suicidal ideation, and experimentation with older people putting them at risk of health problems such as AIDS.
Addressing Homophobic Name-Calling
Homophobic name-calling is a common problem in the society today, with the reality even in the schools. Given the reality among very young children, it can have devastating effects on their emotional and mental wellbeing. Homophobia is a problem that should be addressed in the society just like other stereotypes and forms of oppression. Teachers have an important role to play in addressing homophobic name-calling in their schools. They always have a major influence on the children and can impact conformity to tolerance of differences and avoidance of oppression. Teachers can achieve this goal by educating the students about non-judgmental facts surrounding homosexuality. Teaching the children about the reality of stereotyping and that homosexuality are only an issue because the society has made it so, is critical to addressing the problem. All adults have a duty to challenge all forms of name-calling, including homophobic ones. Therefore, it is time to teach the children that it is not right to oppress the gay and lesbians. In fact, they should understand that the aspect of name-calling is derived from such intolerance. Therefore, children should be taught greater tolerance.