Since 1975, the American Psychological Association has called on psychologists to take the lead in removing the stigma of mental illness that has understanding others pdf been associated with lesbian, gay and bisexual orientations. The discipline of psychology is concerned with the well-being of people and groups and therefore with threats to that well-being. Sexual orientation also refers to a person’s sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors and membership in a community of others who share those attractions. Sexual orientation is commonly discussed as if it were solely a characteristic of an individual, like biological sex, gender identity or age.
This perspective is incomplete because sexual orientation is defined in terms of relationships with others. People express their sexual orientation through behaviors with others, including such simple actions as holding hands or kissing. This brochure focuses on sexual orientation. Answers to Your Questions About Transgender Individuals and Gender Identity , addresses gender identity. How do people know if they are lesbian, gay, or bisexual? According to current scientific and professional understanding, the core attractions that form the basis for adult sexual orientation typically emerge between middle childhood and early adolescence. These patterns of emotional, romantic, and sexual attraction may arise without any prior sexual experience.
People can be celibate and still know their sexual orientation–be it lesbian, gay, bisexual or heterosexual. Different lesbian, gay and bisexual people have very different experiences regarding their sexual orientation. Some people know that they are lesbian, gay or bisexual for a long time before they actually pursue relationships with other people. What causes a person to have a particular sexual orientation? There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors.
What role do prejudice and discrimination play in the lives of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people? Lesbian, gay and bisexual people in the United States encounter extensive prejudice, discrimination and violence because of their sexual orientation. Intense prejudice against lesbians, gay men, and bisexual people was widespread throughout much of the 20th century. Sexual orientation discrimination takes many forms. Severe antigay prejudice is reflected in the high rate of harassment and violence directed toward lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals in American society. Numerous surveys indicate that verbal harassment and abuse are nearly universal experiences among lesbian, gay and bisexual people. Also, discrimination against lesbian, gay, and bisexual people in employment and housing appears to remain widespread.
AIDS pandemic is another area in which prejudice and discrimination against lesbian, gay and bisexual people have had negative effects. AIDS was a “gay diseases” contributed to the delay in addressing the massive social upheaval that AIDS would generate. Gay and bisexual men have been disproportionately affected by this disease. What is the psychological impact of prejudice and discrimination?
Prejudice and discrimination have social and personal impact. On the social level, prejudice and discrimination against lesbian, gay and bisexual people are reflected in the everyday stereotypes of members of these groups. These stereotypes persist even though they are not supported by evidence, and they are often used to excuse unequal treatment of lesbian, gay and bisexual people. On an individual level, such prejudice and discrimination may also have negative consequences, especially if lesbian, gay and bisexual people attempt to conceal or deny their sexual orientation. Although many lesbians and gay men learn to cope with the social stigma against homosexuality, this pattern of prejudice can have serious negative effects on health and well-being.
The widespread prejudice, discrimination, and violence to which lesbians and gay men are often subjected are significant mental health concerns. Sexual prejudice, sexual orientation discrimination and antigay violence are major sources of stress for lesbian, gay and bisexual people. Although social support is crucial in coping with stress, antigay attitudes and discrimination may make it difficult for lesbian, gay and bisexual people to find such support. No, lesbian, gay and bisexual orientations are not disorders. Research has found no inherent association between any of these sexual orientations and psychopathology. Both heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Both have been documented in many different cultures and historical eras.