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Sexual Orientation and Human Rights

By aroseq94 Apr 25, 2013 1397 Words
The importance of one’s sexual orientation in today’s society is quite prevalent. As human beings, we demand that everything in our lives be categorized and placed into its own spot in our mind. These different categories we use may include age, race, height, personality, and sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is one’s sexual identity in relation to which gender they are attracted to. In today’s society, as well as that of the past, many individuals believe this information is fairly important to know about a particular person. The group of people that are mostly affected by this way of thinking would be that of the Lesbian (L), Gay (G), Bi-sexual (B), and Transgender (T) community. Instead of being treated equally and fairly by the rest of the community, these individuals may be ostracized by the rest of the world because of their sexual preferences. This problem becomes more and more apparent as we look into the employment and schooling of the LGBT Community and the mistreatments they encounter on a day to day basis. Some of the basic human rights of these individuals are completely disregarded because of their sexual orientation. These mistreatments are more widespread than many individuals believe, and the effects it has on the LGBT Community can be detrimental.

For the LGBT citizens, these mistreatments of their basic human rights are apparent in their day to day lives. Focusing on the employment and schooling of these citizens, one is able to clearly see the mistreatments that surrounds these individuals. There is a problematic “disconnect” between the ideal discussion on diversity rights and the actual encounters which are experienced by the LGBT community in our country (Taylor, 2011, p. 277). The discrimination they combat in their day to day lives at work and school can have negative effects on these individuals. In a Hong Kong study, conducted by Holning Lau & Rebecca L. Stotzer, it is reported that, while there is protection against discrimination from a governmental level, there currently is still no legal protection against sexual orientation discrimination in the private sphere (Lau, 2011, p. 18). This includes discrimination against this LGBT Community during employment and schooling. The study done in Hong Kong ran a survey on the prevalence of employment discrimination. The results they received are actually quite disconcerting. It showed that individuals of the LGBT Community are openly discriminated against based off of their sexual orientation in the workplace. Some individuals were denied jobs because of their sexual orientation, while others were allowed to continue on working, but they were subjected to many pressures, such as a pressure to leave the job. (Lau, 2011, p. 27) Similar counts of sexual discrimination can be found on college campuses. Research done by Rebecca L. Stotzer in 2010 explored the antidiscrimination policies that were in place on college campuses and how they affected the hate crime reporting rates. The survey was conducted throughout 14 universities across the country. Throughout the student base, 43% of the LGBT respondents described feeling that their campuses overall feeling was that of a homophobic environment (Stotzer, 2010, p. 148). This overall feeling of homophobia across campus has been reported to have negative effects on the entire campus community, including faculty, staff, and students. Any negative environment brings negativity to those who encounter it. Stotzer observed that not only did the discrimination affect those of the LGBT Community, but it also had a negative impact on the college as a whole. A study done by Catherine Taylor and Tracey Peter showed that the discrimination varied even within the LGBT Community in many aspects. Many LGBT students reported feeling the discrimination strongly across campuses where feelings of homophobia were present. Verbal discrimination was the predominant form of discrimination felt by the students, but certainly not the sole form they experienced. Students were confronted with physical harassment and assault because of their sexual orientation, as well (Taylor, 2011, p. 284). The prevalence of discrimination is very common in these environments.

Because these individuals face this common discrimination based off of their sexual orientation, many of their basic rights as human beings are torn to shreds. The pressures that are placed on the LGBT Community can be quite detrimental to one’s life, and may very well affect their pursuit of happiness. Individuals may feel pressured to hide themselves, and remain in the shadows of our society so that they do not face the discriminations that come along with being “out”. The phrase “being in the closet” simply means that an individual does not publicly voice their sexual orientation for the world to know. The feeling of entrapment comes along with “being in the closet” because many individuals feel that they cannot be free and open without there being negative repercussions. Some open LGBT students stated that they did not feel as if they were a part of their school when asked (Taylor, 2011, p. 289). This feeling of isolation is common in the LGBT Community. Because society has ostracized so many individuals already, many people are deciding to keep themselves closed to our community and, in a way, separate themselves. The negativity that comes along with one being open about his/her sexuality may be overwhelming for many. This is extremely relevant when in regards to those individuals at the workplace. Many have decided to conceal their sexuality from their co-workers and employers so that there will be no opinions or discriminations based off of their sexual orientation (Lau, 2011, p. 28). The incentives to conceal their sexual identity has often outweighed those to disclose their sexuality. The right to nondiscrimination and to be free from violence and harassment is denied when anti-discrimination laws are denied by enforcement. The right to free expression and free association are either denied by the law, or by the LGBT Community themselves solely because of the negative, homophobic environment we live in. The right to work is compromised when an individual discloses his/her sexuality because, as stated above, there have been a multitude of cases where individuals have been fired because of the their sexual orientation. (Coman, 2003, p.2) There are just a few of the rights that are affected by the sexual orientation of an individual.

There are many psychological effects that come along with being open about one’s sexual orientation and feeling the discrimination that comes along with being open about one’s sexuality. One major psychological effect would be the internal homophobia that can occur within an individual. Internalized homophobia can be traced back to the forms of distress felt by many individuals of the LGBT Community when dealing with discriminations. These feelings of internal homophobia can be quite detrimental to the mental health of these individuals. The contradiction of the heart and the mind is a battle that is fought at least once in every individual, but this one is much more serious. An individual begins to question his/her own feelings and attractions because of the thoughts of those who surround them, causing an internal conflict that cannot be simply solved by time. These feelings go on to cause a decrease in life satisfaction, meaning that these individuals who are ridiculed for their natural feelings are not able to feel the full satisfaction as everyone else because they are constantly dealing with the hassles and harm of discrimination. It was found that concealing one’s sexuality made individuals less likely to be the victim of discrimination, but that in itself brings up problems. Hiding from the world forces one to isolate themselves from certain situations. Isolation and ostracization can lead to one’s decreased life satisfaction, as well. (Lau, 2011, p. 29)

Sexual orientation has an array of effects on the basic human rights of those in the LGBT Community. Solely looking into the lives of students and employees, one can see the harmful effects that occur when the knowledge of one’s sexual orientation are known. The need for human beings to categorize everything and everyone can become quite detrimental to everyone involved. The negative environment that has evolved for these individuals who are lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgender has become too hostile. Instead of accepting these individuals into our society just as everyone else, we are ostracizing them and isolating them out. The effects that come ultimately decrease the life satisfaction of everyone involved and is separating us with discrimination.

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