Heteronormativity in U.S. Schools

Have you ever wondered why homosexual people have to come out while heterosexual people do not? The word that explains this is heteronormativity, which is the set of cultural assumptions that heterosexuality is the norm in society. Heteronormativity is dominant in movies, TV shows, and many institutions, particularly schools in the United States.

Image result for heteronormativity

One of the main ways heteronormativity is reinforced in schools is through anti-gay curriculum laws, a broad category consisting of laws which restrict the discussion of homosexuality in schools, only teach abstinence, and do not teach adequate sex education for LGBTQ+ youth. The Columbia Law Review says 25 million children are exposed to these laws across the country.

Because of the lack of comprehensive sex education for LGBTQ+ youth, a report done by Planned Parenthood among other organizations writes that LGBTQ+ youth are more likely to engage in dangerous sexual behaviors that can put them at a much greater risk than heterosexual people their age.

Another way heteronormativity is perpetuated in schools is through the lack of LGBTQ+ history that is taught in classrooms. The U.S. News and World Report, there are currently only four states which require LGBT history to be taught in public schools. When LGBTQ+ students do not see themselves being represented in school, they are alienated and can often end up feeling much less validated with their identity and/or sexuality.

Not only are LGBTQ+ people at a disadvantage as children in public schools, but the inequality continues throughout college and adult life. The U.S. Department of Education found that in 2016, 75 colleges and universities requested to be able to discriminate based on either sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Meanwhile, many universities are making efforts to be inclusive and welcoming to LGBTQ+ people in particular from admissions to lesson content. This is so important because there is an extra level of stress added to the college process for LGBTQ+ students. Extra resources should be made available to these students, such a mental health resources, gender neutral bathrooms, and presence of LGBTQ+ clubs and groups on campuses.

As well as providing additional resources, it’s important for LGBTQ+ topics to be introduced to college students in regular classes in addition to specialized courses. Discrimination often stems from ignorance and exposure in college can play a huge role in combatting this issue.

In the United States, individual factors such as teachers, school curriculums, laws, and social norms, often combine to make LGBTQ+ people isolated from society as a whole. Through each seemingly minor discriminatory act to flat-out discrimination, the system of inequality is furthered and is then continued throughout an LGBTQ+ person’s life.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s