Frequently Asked Questions about Sexuality

By American Psychological Association

Q. Can Lesbians, Gay Men, and Bisexuals Be Good Parents?

Yes. Studies comparing groups of children raised by homosexual and by heterosexual parents find no developmental differences between the two groups of children in four critical areas: their intelligence, psychological adjustment, social adjustment, and popularity with friends. It is also important to realize that a parent’s sexual orientation does not indicate their children’s.

Another myth about homosexuality is the mistaken belief that gay men have more of a tendency than heterosexual men to sexually molest children. There is no evidence to suggest that homosexuals molest children.

Q. Why Do Some Gay Men, Lesbians, and Bisexuals Tell People About Their Sexual Orientation?

Because sharing that aspect of themselves with others is important to their mental health. In fact, the process of identity development for lesbians, gay men and bisexuals called “coming out” has been found to be strongly related to psychological adjustment;the more positive the gay, lesbian, or bisexual identity, the better one’s mental health and the higher one’s self-esteem.

Q. Why Is the “Coming Out” Process Difficult for Some Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual People?

For some gay and bisexual people the “coming out” process is difficult; for others it is not. Often lesbian, gay and bisexual people feel afraid, different, and alone when they first realize that their sexual orientation is different from the community norm. This is particularly true for people becoming aware of their gay, lesbian, or bisexual orientation in childhood or adolescence, which is not uncommon. And depending on their families and their communities, they may have to struggle against prejudice and misinformation about homosexuality.

Children and adolescents may be particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of bias and stereotypes. They may also fear being rejected by family, friends, co-workers, and religious institutions. Some gay people have to worry about losing their jobs or being harassed at school if their sexual orientation became well known.

Unfortunately, gay, lesbian, and bisexual people are at a higher risk for physical assault and violence than are heterosexuals. Studies done in California in the mid-1990s showed that nearly one-fifth of all lesbians who took part in the study, and more than one-fourthof all gay men who participated, had been the victim of a hate crime based on their sexual orientation. In another California study of approximately 500 young adults, half of all the young men participating in the study admitted to some form of anti-gay aggression, ranging from name-calling to physical violence.

Q. What Can Be Done to Overcome the Prejudice and Discrimination that Gay Men, Lesbians, and Bisexuals Experience?

Research has found that the people who have the most positive attitudes toward gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals are those who say they know one or more gay, lesbian or bisexual person well, often as a friend or co-worker. For this reason, psychologists believe that negative attitudes toward gay people as a group are prejudices that are not grounded in actual experience but are based on stereotypes and misinformation. Furthermore, protection against violence and discrimination are very important, just as they are for any other minority groups. Some states include violence against an individual on the basis of his or her sexual orientation as a “hate crime,” and ten U.S. states have laws against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Q. Why Is it Important for Society to be Better Educated About Homosexuality?

Educating all people about sexual orientation and homosexuality is likely to diminish anti-gay prejudice. Accurate information about homosexuality is especially important to young people who are first discovering and seeking to understand their sexuality,whether homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual. Fears that access to such information will make more people gay have no validity; information about homosexuality does not make someone gay or straight.

Q. Are All Gay and Bisexual Men HIV Infected?

No. This is a common myth. In reality, the risk of exposure to HIV is related to a person’s behavior, not their sexual orientation. What’s important to remember about HIV/AIDS is that contracting the disease can be prevented by using safe sex practices and by not using drugs.

Article courtesy of the American Psychological Association. Copyright © American Psychological Association. Reprinted here with permission.

 

APA Reference
Association, A. (2007). Frequently Asked Questions about Sexuality. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/frequently-asked-questions-about-sexuality/0001141
Scientifically Reviewed
    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.