Sexual Orientation

Why is being heterosexual / straight seen as a privilege?

Sexual Orientation

Why is being heterosexual / straight seen as a privilege?
Sexual orientation refers to a person’s sexual attraction to other people, or lack thereof. People who are heterosexual (or straight) tend to have an attraction towards those of the opposite sex. People who aren’t heterosexual may or may not identify with a label from the non-exhaustive LGBTQIAP+ acronym which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, and pansexual.

Why is sexual orientation seen as a privilege?

We live in a society which supports and promotes the idea that being heterosexual / straight is the norm. Anyone who defines or identifies themselves outside of this ‘norm’ often face multiple challenges and barriers because we live in a hetero-patriarchy.

The hetero-patriarchy is where cisgender straight men are granted more power, influence and freedom by default over other groups. This means that people in the LGBTQIA+ community often face oppression and discrimination due to their sexual orientation and identity.

In what ways are LGBTQIA+ people treated differently?

While laws are changing in some countries, there is still significant disparity in the ways that people within the LGBTQIA+ community are treated by the public and a country’s government.

What is your privilege?

  • I can visit any country I want with my partner
  • Showing affection publicly with my partner feels safe
  • I don’t feel like I have to hide my sexual orientation

The stats don’t lie

  • One in five LGBT people have experienced a hate crime or incident because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity in the last 12 months (Stonewall)
  • Almost one in four LGBT people (23%) have witnessed discriminatory or negative remarks against LGBT people by healthcare staff. (Stonewall, LGBT in Britain – Health 2018)
  • People identifying as LGBT are at a higher risk of experiencing poor mental health (Mental Health Foundation references publication, 2011)

What to do next?

The assumption is that being heterosexual is seen as the norm in society and societal construct is built around a hetero-normative lifestyle, therefore making it more complex for anyone who defines them self as anything other than heterosexual. If you’re interested in starting a journey to overhaul this imbalance then join the Privilege Project today.

Watch the recorded session on Sexual Orientation privilege from our launch event.