Sexual Prejudice Towards LGBTQ and Gender Differences

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Sexual Prejudice Towards LGBTQ and Gender Differences: Literature Review Social Psychology Ana Esther Paulino Sanchez SUNY Geneseo Abstract There is a difference between the prejudice and attitude towards LGBTQ according to gender. Studies like Gregory M. Hereck (2000), Sarlo and Buodo (2017), Glotfelter and Anderson (2012), and Kiebel et al (2017) further explore these differences. In each study, the difference in sexual prejudice according to gender is analyzed differently. All of the results came to a similar conclusion that men are more likely to show sexual prejudice towards LGBTQ members, specifically toward gay men and trans women.

Also, that women are more accepting yet still hold prejudice. All the studies supported that there is a difference between sexual prejudice towards LGBTQ members according to gender. Introduction Everyone is different but the same. People are different in sex, religion, nationality, race, sexual orientation and so on, however, we are all humans. There is an ongoing fight for equality and to be treated all as humans. One of the most mistreated groups across the world is the LGBTQ community. In the United States, LGBTQ movements have persisted the fight for equality.

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On June 26, 2015, gay marriage was finally legalized. Many are still against this legislative action. Gender conforming norms are instilled into people since infancy. People can guess the sex of your baby by the quilt you use to cover her or him up. Society has constructed how females and males should act. People never realized the damage they do by allocating gender conforming things to their kids. Sexual orientation and religion are things one should choose on their own, however, they are for the most part chosen by our parents.

Just like being baptism at 6 months old, using either pink or blue and dolls or no dolls are not things a newborn or a kid can choose. It all starts as soon as the mother gives birth, gender socialization welcomes a brand-new baby. As this baby grows older the parents constantly pressure them into their appropriate roles, with no regards of the baby’s preference. Girls are supposed to be raised to be a good wife, nurturing, maybe work as a nurse or a secretary, and so on. Boys on the other hand are not taught to be good husband rather to be manly, a provider, a hard worker, and maybe work as a CEO or in construction. Everything goes wrong for those who challenge this pattern.

No matter how much the society assure they are at peace with the LGBTQ community, there is still mistreatment. The mistreatment is different, and it depends on who it comes from. There are beliefs that go on nonstop causing many negative stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination, bullying and so on towards the LGBTQ community. Many religious beliefs state that males and females are made to have heterosexual relationships, and therefore, going against it is sinful. Others think that LGBTQ preferences are just modality.

There is a difference between the prejudice and attitude towards LGBTQ according to gender. Social identity theory states that people’s self-concept comes from their membership in a social group. LGBTQ members identify as either lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer. Lesbian and gay individuals are those who engage in same sex relationships. Bisexual individuals are attracted to both men and women. Transgender individuals are people whose personal identity and gender does not correlate with their biological sex.

A Queer is a person who doesn’t identify with being cisgender or heterosexual. There are different theories on heterosexuality and homosexuality identity. One of them is the belief that heterosexuality and homosexuality are in a continuum. This belief states that no one is a hundred percent one of the other sexual orientations. Many homosexuals carry out heterosexual activities and vise versa. Some people have low self-esteem on which sexual orientation they choose. Literature Review Gregory M. Hereck (2000) In a study conducted by Hereck (2000) explored the sexual prejudice differences among gender. One of the study’s purpose was to analyze the different intensity of sexual prejudice towards lesbian and gay individuals.

A national survey was conducted on attitudes towards lesbian women and gay men. The survey indicated the attitudes in each homosexual category. For example, some of the statements were; “Sex between two women (men) is just plain wrong”, and I think female homosexuals or lesbians are disgusting”. The higher score meant that the person showed higher sexual prejudice. Men showed higher prejudice toward gay men than lesbian.

Women’s prejudice didn’t differ as much as men, it was equally directed towards gay men and lesbians. However, they did show higher sexual prejudice towards gay men. The second purpose was to evaluate the comfortability level of both heterosexual females and males around homosexuals. The same method of survey was used but with different questions. For example, “In general how comfortable do you feel around a man (woman) who is homosexual?”. The results showed that 25% of men ad 46% of women feel very comfortable around gay men.

The feeling of discomfort for lesbians was higher in women than in men. These results mean that heterosexuals of the same sex as homosexual feel less comfortable and have higher prejudice. This supports that gender identity influences the way people perceive the LGBTQ community. This was a cross sectional study on the attitudes toward gay people and gender. There was causality. Gender does influence the amount of sexual prejudice use towards homosexuals.

In addition, this study has some concerns on validity. There were no threats to external validity. The sample size was over a thousand for each survey. Everyone was randomly selected and assigned to conditions. There are some threats to internal validity. There was some subject characteristic confounds. This study looked at the difference levels of sexual prejudice from both women and men through a survey.

Participants are not allowed to express their point of views outside of the options given to them by the researcher. Some of the questions were to determine comfortability of heterosexuals when interacting with homosexuals, some participants never had interactions with homosexual individuals. This caused some inconsistency in the responses targeting experiences and how it affects sexual prejudice. There was not environmental characteristic confound.

Also, there were no demand characteristics this was a national survey, it was never mention that the research had any type of contact with the participants. Even though this cross-sectional study explored the differences in gender and prejudice against gay men and lesbians, it did not go into depth on self-esteem of gender identity and sexual prejudice, but its finding showed a possible correlation that can be looked at in future research. Also, the sexual prejudice measure was only towards lesbian and gay men. Nothing was said about others member of the LGBTQ community.

In future research, sexual prejudice should be looked at taking in consideration not only one demographic like gender but others like religion. Also, questions should be expanded to other members of the LGBTQ community since all are victims of sexual prejudice. Glotfelter and Anderson (2012) Many past studies have shown that men have higher sexual prejudice against sexual minorities, however, these studies did not go in depth on gender identity. Glotfelter and Anderson (2012) examined both men and women by looking at the relationships among gender self-esteem, sexual, and trans prejudice.

The researchers tested several hypotheses. The first hypothesis they predicted that heterosexual men will report more sexual and trans prejudice than heterosexual women. Second, they predicted that the there is an interaction between the gender of the participants and the gender of target (sexual prejudice). Men would report more sexual prejudice towards gay men than women towards lesbians.

The third hypothesis, men would be more negative affected and have higher discomfort towards trans women than trans men. Last hypothesis was that if trans and sexual prejudice are both rooted by gender self-esteem then trans prejudice should become weaker after looking at sexual prejudice. There were 391 participants (187 women and 204 men), and they all identified as cisgender. This study used different scales to measure the levels of prejudice. All of the scale surveys were taken in a group setting with a female researcher, after each participant was debriefed.

For sexual prejudice the researchers used the Modern Homonegativity Scale, and it measured prejudice for both gay men and lesbians. Trans prejudice towards both trans men and women was measured with the Genderism and Transphobia Scale. Gender self-esteem was measured through the Collective Self-esteem Scale. Social desirability scales were also given to the participants to measure if they were responding in a socially desirable way to all the questionnaires above. There is causality in this study, indeed men have higher levels of sexual prejudice and trans prejudice.

Men had higher prejudice for gay men than for lesbians. They also had higher transprejudice for trans women than trans men. Women were more accepting of the LGBTQ community. The results of this research show that men are more threatened by sexual minorities that go against the roles “masculinity”. This was cross sectional study and information was gathered by questionnaires. Some of these questionnaires were up to 32 questions. This causes subject characteristics confound because answering these questions is time consuming.

This is a self-reported measure which may not be true to the participants feelings. The assessments used to explore attitude towards transgender were not completely reliable. Some participants did not have knowledge on differences between trans men and trans women since there is lack of information to the popular crowds. There is more understanding with what it means to be gay or lesbian. This may have impacted answering the assessments provided during the research.

In addition, these assessments did not asses all the behavior or attitude that are currently used towards transgenders. There are more than just transgenders like drag queens and kings, intersex, and so on. Also, some questions were about aggression and violence which goes against our acceptable social behaviors, therefore, people may have had a lack of honesty. There is some demand characteristic confound as well, because all of the subjects completed the survey with a female researcher. This was not a double-blind experiment.

The researcher may have given the participant hints about the purpose of the study. As for environmental characteristics everything was consistent. Therefore, we can conclude that the study had low internal validity. External validity threats were present as well. The participants were randomly selected, however, even though the sample size was big enough with 391 participants, but it did not represent the population overall. The participants were majorly white college students which was not generalized to the population overall.

There could be different levels of sexual prejudice among other ethnicities, cultures, social class and so on. For future research, the researchers interacting with the participants should not know the purpose of the study to eliminate demand characteristics. When exploring sexual prejudice towards LGBTQ community research should make sure that all sexual orientations are understood by the participant.

Furthermore, this research tried to explore much more than just prejudice towards lesbian and gay men which is an improvement from Hereck (2000). Kiebel et al (2017) Even though sexual minorities are seen as going against social norms, prejudice towards them is doing the same. Some people express their prejudice loud and clear with no shame; this is called explicit prejudice. Others state they have no prejudice at all but unconsciously do; this is called implicit prejudice. Implicit prejudice may be a cause of past experiences or knowledge. It is surprising how much prejudice people hold even if they assure you, they don’t.

A study conducted by Kiebel et al (2017) showed that implicit and explicit prejudice towards LGBTQ individuals differs according to the gender. There were 84 heterosexual college participants randomly selected through the SONA system. Participants were asked for demographics: race, ethnicity, religion, and so on. They were also asked about their past interactions with homosexuals. Each participant rated their prejudice towards each member LGBTQ community.

Participants were shown pictures of different scenarios of people kissing; two women, a man and a woman, and two men. They were also shown pleasant images, disgusting images, and Chinese symbols as a control. Participants had to rate the level of disgustingness and pleasantness. While pictures were shown psychophysiological data was taken as well. The electrophysiological activity was recorded throughout the experiment.

The results showed that explicitly both male and female rated same sex kissing as more disgusting, however, men showed more disgust towards male same sex kissing. The implicit attitudes showed the same result but that there was no evidence for differences between male same sex kissing and the disgusting images shown to the participants. The physiological measures did not show any change. This study has some threats of validity.

The researchers tried to limit external validity by randomly selecting the subject. Nevertheless, participants were mainly college students and white with Christian religious beliefs. Even though they were randomly selected from a SONA system pool they were still not representative of the population. They were only representative of the SONA system pool of undergraduates at Western Illinois University with psychology interest. There were no threats of internal validity.

This study showed that in order to do future research with physiological measures, the presented stimulus needs to be effective enough to produce different reaction. There was no change in the physiological measures because participants were shown pleasant and after unpleasant pictures causing a neutral reaction state. Sarlo and Buodo (2017) Sarlo and Buodo (2017) ran an experiment to measure responses of participants when exposed to same sex visual sexual stimuli.

One of their hypotheses was that heterosexual men would have an aversive response toward the sexual stimuli they do not preferred meaning homosexual behavior. This study was carried out by using electrocardiogram, beat to beat systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and skin conductance level. There were 24 men and 23 women, and each indicated that they have preference for opposite sex. Each participant was showed 24 pictures of either female-female, male-male, or male-female individuals engaging in sexual activities.

For the first trial, pictures were shown for 32 seconds each and the participants were encouraged to look at the pictures for the full time. For the second trial participants could look at the pictures for as long as they wanted. Time was recorded to measure preference. Results were similar to what has been found before. Women are more flexible and comfortable seeing homosexual activity or people around them.

Regardless, they still have preference for male-female sexual activity. For men, there was a clear preference for female to female but the male to female was more pleasant to look at. Even though men use sexual prejudice against lesbians as well they seem to enjoy their sexual engagement. Overall, the was causality, patterns showed preference of the different type of pictures participants saw reflect their overall attitudes towards homosexual individuals. This study was well conducted. It had good ethics; all of the volunteers gave consent. Also, being a participant was rewarded by 13 euros.

Even though it was an invasive experiment each participant was aware, and no harm was caused in any way. The study did not measure heterosexuality to the fullest. Participants measured themselves from 0 to 6 on their heterosexual levels. Choosing 0 mean that participants were attracted to opposite sex and 6 correlated to same sex. There was no threat to internal validity, however this study did not use random assignment.

Environmental characteristics were not present. Demand characteristics the researchers did not intervene other than to give instruction. There are threats to external validity as well since all the participants were selected through requirements, not through random sampling. Males were only allowed to participate if they were gynephilic meaning they were attracted to women only. All women were required to be androphilic meaning they were attracted to men only.

The sample size was small with only 32 participants. Conclusion Sexual prejudice toward the LGBTQ community is controversial and a current event problem. From prejudice comes negative behaviors towards this sexual minority. The studies showed that even though prejudice is in both heterosexual men and women, it is higher in men. Men have higher prejudice towards gay men and trans women in particular. However, they still have prejudice for lesbian as well.

Most of this prejudice is not loudly expressed and most of time it is just a way to show masculinity. Masculinity is nowadays determined culturally. Being masculine in the American society is not just being biologically male, its more. Masculinity is earned; there are stereotypes and rules a male most follow to be masculine.

None of the studies explored the extent into which masculinity affects the sexual prejudice, however, they all express that self-esteem of gender identity in the case of the man increases sexual prejudice. This is a topic that should be research in the future to understand more sexual prejudice and its high rates among men. According to the social identity theory proposed by Henri Tajfel, most of the person’s identity is based on their group membership.

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This explains why some groups hold negative attitudes towards outgroups. In this case heterosexuality being the major sexual orientation, the outgroup being the LGBTQ community. This theory explains that because of the different identities is hard for members to understand the beliefs of the outgroup causing prejudice. LGBTQ community currently is an outgroup suffering from prejudice from the ingroup, heterosexuals. Education can lead the American society to be more accepting of the LGBTQ community.

By educating kids to express themselves and accept each other as humans we may be able to lower sexual prejudice in the future. The problem comes with identifying as heterosexual and perceiving that anything outside of this group is not acceptable. This issue has been acknowledged already. Even though our main source of socializations our parents, school is our second home. Education is the key in to lowering sexual prejudice or any type of prejudice. There is a new curriculum that integrates the LGBTQ community and recognize them with acceptable gender identities. This challenges the traditional sexual orientation and gender. This curriculum also allows children to express who they are without having to commit to traditions.


  1. Glotfelter, M. A., & Anderson, V. N. (2017). Relationships between gender self-esteem, sexual prejudice, and trans prejudice in cisgender heterosexual college students. International Journal of Transgenderism,18(2), 182-198. doi:10.1080/15532739.2016.1274932
  2. Herek, G. M. (2000). Sexual Prejudice and Gender: Do Heterosexuals Attitudes Toward Lesbians and Gay Men Differ? Journal of Social Issues,56(2), 251-266. doi:10.1111/0022-4537.00164
  3. Kiebel, E. M., Mcfadden, S. L., & Herbstrith, J. C. (2016). Disgusted but not afraid: Feelings toward same-sex kissing reveal subtle homonegativity. The Journal of Social Psychology,157(3), 263-278. doi:10.1080/00224545.2016.1184127
  4. Sarlo, M., & Buodo, G. (2017). To each its own? Gender differences in affective, autonomic, and behavioral responses to same-sex and opposite-sex visual sexual stimuli. Physiology & Behavior,171, 249-255. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2017.01.017

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Sexual Prejudice Towards LGBTQ and Gender Differences. (2019, Jul 15). Retrieved from