Schooling, sexuality, and rights: An investigation of heterosexual students' social cognition regarding sexual orientation and the rights of gay and lesbian peers in school

Stacey S. Horn, Laura A. Szalacha, Karen Drill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations

Abstract

Within the United States, protecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students in school elicits much controversy and debate. On one side is the argument that all students should be able to receive an education free from discrimination, harassment, and harm. On the other side is the argument that by protecting LGBT students' rights, schools are infringing on the rights of others to their individual beliefs about homosexuality. To investigate these competing arguments, we surveyed high school-aged heterosexual adolescents (N = 1,076) regarding their beliefs and attitudes about sexual orientation and the rights of gay and lesbian peers. Results suggest that adolescents differentiate between their individual beliefs about homosexuality and the rights of others to be safe in school. Further, the results provide additional support for the idea that attitudes and beliefs about sexual orientation and the rights of gay and lesbian peers are multifaceted and draw from multiple domains of social knowledge. The implications of these findings will be discussed in relation to the rights of LGBT students and the obligations that schools have to create safe and supportive learning environments for all students regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)791-813
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Social Issues
Volume64
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

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