Why should someone choose to be homophobic?

You can't choose to be gay


Read on one side

On the other hand, those who never meet open lesbians or gays are more likely to hold onto false assumptions, for example about how sexual orientations arise. Some people believe that lesbians and gays chose their own sexual orientation or that they were seduced into homosexuality. This is also implicitly shown in the Baden-W├╝rttemberg petition against addressing sexual diversity in schools. It criticizes that the "negative side effects of an LGBTTIQ lifestyle" are not sufficiently reflected. The author of the petition apparently thinks that sexual orientation is comparable to a lifestyle decision. Just as you can choose between organic products and conventional foods, you can also decide for or against homosexuality.

The more people believe that sexual orientation is a free choice or that it is influenced by the environment, the more homophobic their attitudes are (e.g. Smith, Zanotti, Axelton & Saucier, 2011). There is increasing evidence that sexual orientation is innate. However, the assumption that people learn their sexual orientation through seduction has been refuted (Rosario & Schrimshaw, 2014).


Homophobia: a term and its history

The term homophobia originally referred to the Fear of homosexuals and was first published in 1972 by the psychologist George Weinberg used. He came across for two reasons criticism: On the one hand, it is limited to the feeling of fear and ignores other negative feelings such as disgust or hatred, which play at least as big a role in the aversion to lesbians and gays. On the other hand, phobia is understood to be an irrational fear, i.e. one mental disorder.

This makes it appear that only a few people have the disorder and that everyone else is healthy. In addition, it ignores the fact that people with fear of homosexuality do not necessarily experience it as irrational or stressful, but are usually able to give plausible arguments to justify it.

Despite the criticism, homophobia has meanwhile mainly become prevailed in social discourse and today it is less a fear than a general one antipathy understood towards lesbians, gays and bisexuals.

To combat homophobia, it helps to clear up such misconceptions or to speak directly to people who have different sexual identities. There are now around 50 projects across Germany in which lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans * people (mostly voluntary) visit school classes or youth facilities and answer questions from young people there. In addition, every single lesbian or trans * person, every gay or bisexual can break down prejudices in their personal environment. It is usually enough to deal with one's own sexual identity as naturally as heterosexuals do, be it as a colleague at work, as a teacher, in a football club or among relatives.

Teachers should exemplify acceptance

Even indirect contact has a positive effect, for example when people tell about their cousin's wife or a friend who used to be a woman. Such experiences are particularly effective when authorities promote these contacts (Pettigrew & Tropp, 2006). It is therefore helpful that ministries of education or school administrations recommend that sexual diversity be addressed at school. It is also desirable that associations guarantee their athletes support should they decide not to keep their sexual identity secret any longer.

Parents and educational professionals should also be aware of rigid gender roles and their negative consequences. A survey in Berlin schools shows that a third of teachers make fun of children and young people who do not behave according to their gender. In doing so, these teachers unintentionally demonstrate what is supposedly appropriate for "real boys" and "real girls" (Klocke, 2012). The gender norms of children and adolescents are increasing. The threat that boys face when they are "not manly enough" is also growing. Therefore, especially in schools, there is a need for teachers and role models who clearly show that it is just as accepted when girls play football and boys cry.