SOC 203 Social Problems
September, 13 2013
This paper will examine Sexual Orientation Inequality as a social problem in today’s society by examining discrimination in the workplace, bullying of LGBTQ youth in school, as well as some long-term effects of discrimination of Homosexuals. Additionally, this paper will examine some recent positive social changes that have occurred, particularly in Marriage equality, as well as look at a possible solution that may lead to ending sexual inequality. As viewed through the sociological lens a social problem is defined by Korgan & Furst (2011), as an issue that effects a large group of individuals where there is an observable pattern that violates core values, having a negative impact on those in power, and that the issue is not only created by society, it can be corrected by society if they so choose to do so. As stated by Korgan & Furst (2011), “Discrimination toward, Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals (LGBTs), is rooted in almost all categories’ of society, including the privileges denied to them in employment, marriage, military service, and parental rights”. While there have been advances to create diversity within the workplace, homosexuals are still discriminated against in many places of work. Korgan & Furst (2011), remark that “Even with legal protection, LGBTs may find the work environment challenging. The experience or even fear of discrimination on the job can create a stressful and at times hostile work environment for anyone. For homosexuals, disclosing this personal information at work brings the risk of prejudicial responses from coworkers, employers, and clients. Facing either real or perceived discrimination in hiring, promotion, scheduling, and firing decisions can affect employee satisfaction, performance, absenteeism, mental and physical health, and turnover rates”. In response to this issue Congress passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (EDNA), in 2012 on the basis of its findings that “Employment discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers is pervasive and harmful. It violates core American values of fairness and equality by discriminating against qualified individuals based on characteristics unrelated to the job”. (ACLU, 2012). Bullying not only occurs in the work place it is also prevalent against LGBTQ youth in our schools. “LGBT individuals are more easily targeted as victims of hate crimes and violence than heterosexuals because of their minority status”, as stated by Korgan and Furst (2011). There are some negative ramifications related to being bullied as well as with being homosexual. As a result of being bullied many may suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Suicide often results from internalizing homophobia which Webber-Gilmore, Rose and Rubenstein (2011), define as a sense of self- loathing one develops in response to being gay or lesbian. Tyler Clementi, was a publicized suicide in 2010 as a result of internalized homophobia. The results of suicide have a negative impact on those left behind, as research shows that survivors of a victim of suicide may also develop PTSD. “ Research conducted in the United States has shown that symptoms often associated with posttraumatic stress can also be found within school-age populations where young people have experienced the unexpected bereavement of a peer, often through suicide” ( Mauk & Rodgers, 1994). Other mental health issues may develop in homosexuals such as depression. In 1996 Congress passed, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman that permits states to deny same-sex couples the right to marry. This view has been gradually changing throughout the world. In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country to legalize marriage between same sex couples. Other countries began to follow suit recognizing civil unions. Society is slowly becoming more accepting of Marriage Equality, and as of July 17, 2013, gay marriage has been legalized in 13 US states and the District of Columbia. One possible solution that may work to ending discrimination against those who experience inequality as a result of their sexual orientation is that of ‘Teaching Tolerance”, which is a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, in our public schools as opposed to teaching single- sex classes. The ACLU has developed a campaign to stop the teaching of single-sex classes where the teaching of stereotyped attitudes about boys’ and girls’ purportedly different interests, talents, and capacities. This type of teaching does not promote the teaching of tolerance about the differences in individuals, it just perpetuates the stereotype of societal gender role attributes. The ACLU’s findings in regard to these types of classed being taught “demonstrate that single-sex education programs within coeducational schools are widely out of compliance with the stringent legal requirements governing separation of students on the basis of sex, mandated by the United States Constitution, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and the Department of Education’s (ED) Title IX regulations.” (ACLU, 2012). Many schools have adopted the use of groups such as Gay-Straight alliances (GSAs), which are student-organized and student-led clubs in U.S. public high schools which support gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual students in their battles to attain equal rights and treatment. The use of such peer groups is a more productive way in which to teach tolerance of others differences. In summary, discrimination against GLBT individuals is prevalent in many facets of our society ranging from inequality in the work place, bullying of adults in the work place and of youth in our schools, which may lead to long-term effects such as mental health issues like PTSD and suicide. Society has made strides over the last decade at lessening inequality based on one’s sexual orientation as evidenced by the Marriage Equality Act. The teaching of Tolerance in schools was also examined as a possible solution to the social problem of Sexual Orientation Inequality. Youth are growing up in a diverse world so, is it not better for them to learn to be accepting of others rather than perpetuate racism, discrimination, and inequality just because others are different from them? As the US constitution states “all men are created equal” and are therefore deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
Korgen, K. & Furst, G. (2012). Social problems: Causes & responses. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
Rivers, I. (2004). Recollections of Bullying at School and Their Long-Term Implications for Lesbians, Gay Men, and Bisexuals. Crisis: The Journal Of Crisis Intervention And Suicide Prevention, 25(4), 169-175. doi:10.1027/0227-5910.25.4.169 SEXUAL ORIENTATION INEQUALIY