Common Misconceptions concerning gender, sex, and sexual orientation.




Debunking the myths listed below may help people understand that LGBT people are just like anyone else, and we

 deserve the same respect you would give to anyone else.



   Myth: You can spot a gay or lesbian person by the way they act and dress.



Reality: Some people believe all gay men are effeminate, and all lesbians are tomboys. While there are some gay and lesbian persons who fit these stereotypes, they are no more representative of all homosexual people than are the Marlboro Man and June Cleaver types representative of all straight people. LGBT people generally look and act like everyone else. Most people never suspect the sexual orientation of an LGBT individual.



   Myth: I’ve never met a person who is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.



 Reality: Most people know a number of LGBT persons, but are unaware of it because these persons are “in the closet”. Because of intense prejudice and hatred directed toward LGBTs in our society, many are quite reluctant to reveal their sexual orientation. As noted above, most LGBT people look and act just like everyone else. They come from all walks of life, all races, all economic levels, and all political perspectives. So heterosexual people can assume that they probably have homosexual neighbors, friends, relatives, and fellow worshipers—although those persons may be afraid to reveal that they are not straight.


   Myth: LGBT people want to come into our schools and recruit the students to their lifestyle.



Reality: There have been attempts to bring LGBT issues into schools, but certainly not to convert anyone. There is no evidence that people could be “recruited” to a homosexual orientation, even if someone wanted to do this. The intent is to teach adolescents not to mistreat LGBT classmates, who are often subjects of harassment and physical attacks. Talking openly about homosexuality is also crucial to students who are LGBT. Feeling alone, frightened and confused, these young people are much more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers. A recent study indicates that 30% of gay and lesbian students attempt suicide around the age of 15.



Myth: To be bisexual implies that a person has multiple partners.



Reality: Bisexual individuals have affection and sexual feelings towards persons of the other sex, as well as the same sex. This does not imply involvement with more than one partner any more than a heterosexual person’s ability to be attracted to more than one person implies multiple partners.



Myth: You can always tell homosexuals by the way they look or act. Men who act in a feminine manner must be gay. Masculine women with short haircuts and deeper voices must be lesbians.



Reality: These stereotypes only apply to about 15% of gays and 5% of lesbians. These stereotypes confuse the concept of sexual orientation (whether you prefer the same or the other sex as sexual partners) with gender roles (exhibiting masculine or feminine behavior). Just as the vast majority of gays and lesbians do not fit these stereotypes, only a portion of heterosexuals match them. Except for their actual sexual activity or admitting their sexual preferences, there is no accurate way to judge someone’s sexual orientation.


            Many adolescents and some adults are not secure in their masculinity or femininity. For them, it is important to be as different form an LGBT person as possible. They may even have homophobia—an unreasonable fear and/or hatred of homosexuals. With their insecurity, they maintain stereotypes of effeminate male gays and masculine lesbians. When they follow the stereotyped gender roles, they feel more sexually adjusted. They use the stereotypes to distinguish between out-group and in-group members. When these individuals meet homosexuals who do not fit the homosexual stereotypes, they feel very upset and threatened. They are extremely upset by any activity with people of the same sex that even hints at being sexual.



   Myth: Christians are united in their opposition to homosexual people and homosexuality.


Reality: There are a wide variety of opinions about homosexual persons among the various Christian denominations, and among individuals as well. Some religious groups interpret certain Biblical passages as injunctions against homosexuality, while others view these passages in the light of historical context, pointing out other passages Christians no longer take literally, such as those advocating slavery, dietary laws, and ritual purity laws. In addition many Christian denominations have issued statements condemning discrimination and prejudice against homosexual people, as have a number of Jewish and other religious groups. There are numerous congregations who welcome and affirm homosexual Christians as fully participating members of the body of Christ, with unique gifts to offer.




Copyright 2007; Gay Straight Alliance


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