Exploring Bias, Stereotypes and Microaggressions

Learn about stereotypes, bias, and everyday slights known as microaggressions, and how they impact those in the LGBTQ+ community.

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Hi! I’m here to help you explore the stereotypes about the LGBTQ+ community. LGBTQ+ stereotypes are everywhere — thrown out as one-liners in TV shows or tossed into casual conversations around the office. And while they may seem harmless, they’re often driven by conscious or unconscious bias, which can have a profound impact on the LGBTQ+ community. Let’s get started.

Challenge your perceptions

Are all gay men into fashion? Do all lesbians play softball? Examine some of the broad stereotypes about people who are LGBTQ+.

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Can you guess the sexual orientation of strangers?

Watch as people guess the sexual orientation of strangers and reveal just how off our judgments can be.

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"He's 'feminine and I'm 'masculine'"

James and Maren confirm you can’t judge a book by its cover and that relationships don’t always look like you’d expect.

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What a hero looks like

This firefighter makes us rethink what a true American hero looks like.

Exploring Unconscious Bias

Explore what researchers are learning about implicit or unconscious bias and the role it plays in our everyday lives.

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A deeper dive into implicit bias

Learn how our brain's natural ability to recognize patterns can lead to stereotyping and discrimination without even thinking.

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Put your hidden bias to the test

Investigate your unknown biases with this quick test from Harvard’s Project Implicit.

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Policing gender

Do gay men discriminate against one another? Discover the role that gender bias plays in determining who looks like a "leader" in both gay and straight men's eyes.

A fresh look at stereotypes

Some researchers think that biases against people who are gay and lesbian are linked to beliefs about gender. Learn more about the idea that attitudes toward the LGBTQ+ community are linked to “policing” masculinity and femininity.

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Is there a 'gay voice'?

Can speech reveal a person’s sexual identity? Linguists have the answers.

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Deconstructing the 'gay voice'

So, you think you can tell if someone is gay by the sound of their voice? Think again.

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Walking gay

Do gay men walk fast? Join Louis Staples as he sorts out fact from fiction.

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Can women win?

Women athletes have faced all kinds of expectations, from being forced to play in dresses and skirts to being stereotyped as lesbians.

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What you think you know about lesbians

Debunk what you think you know about lesbians and women who love women.

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'Lesbian': A dirty word

Unpack the stigma around the word ‘lesbian’.

Microaggressions and their impact

Learn about microaggressions--what they are and how to avoid them.

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"You don't seem gay"

Two experts share examples of common microaggressions, their impact and how to combat them.

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6 microaggressions to avoid

Kevin Nadal, PhD., discusses microaggressions on a personal and systemic level and why they matter.

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“That’s so gay”

What may seem like a harmless expression can have a serious impact, especially on teens.

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Double whammy

Bias and discrimination know no bounds. Discover what happens when it follows LGBTQ+ people into their healthcare.

Thumbnail for The devastating consequences of discrimination

The devastating consequences of discrimination

LGBTQ+ youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers.

Thumbnail for You’ve stumbled into a microaggression, now what?

You’ve stumbled into a microaggression, now what?

Learn how to respond if you slip up.

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Citations & Sources

Carpentier, M. (2009, April 10). Pssst: The girl’s guide to lesbian cliches & stereotypes. Jezebel. Retrieved from https://jezebel.com/5205953/pssst-the-girls-guide-to-lesbian-cliches--stereotypes

Cut (2017, July 17). People guess the sexual orientation of strangers [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2g0IhAuSAw

Dusenbery, M. (2013, May 31). What about the guys who do fit the gay stereotype’? The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/05/what-about-the-guys-who-do-fit-the-gay-stereotype/276407/

Fahy, C. (2015, May 6). Fearless project challenges stereotypes about LGBT athletes. Daily Bruin. Retrieved from http://dailybruin.com/2015/05/06/fearless-project-challenges-stereotypes-about-lgbt-athletes/

Geiger, W., Harwood, J., & Hummert, M.L. (2006). College students' multiple stereotypes of lesbians: A cognitive perspective. Journal of Homosexuality, 51(3), 165-182. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/6663841_College_Students%27_Multiple_Stereotypes_of_Lesbians

Griner, B. (2013, May 5). Griner says she is part of mission to help all live in truth. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/06/sports/basketball/brittney-griner-proudly-part-of-a-mission-to-help-others-live-in-truth.html?_r=1&

History Now (2016, June 13). The Jozi Cats rugby team wants to change perceptions of athletes [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgZwKj8kS8k&t=17s

James, S. (2009, April 14). When words can kill: ‘That’s so gay’. ABC News. Retrieved from https://abcnews.go.com/Health/MindMoodNews/story?id=7328091

J Kort (2018, March 5). “That’s so gay” Is just so wrong [web log comment]. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/understanding-the-erotic-code/201803/thats-so-gay-is-just-so-wrong

NBC News (2017, June 8). LGBTQ firefighter is putting put fires and stereotypes [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Palw8vbpKc

Nordell, J. (2017, May 7). Is this how discrimination ends? The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/05/unconscious-bias-training/525405/

Payne, K., Niemi, L., & Doris, J.M. (2018, March 27). How to think about “implicit bias”. Scientific American. Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-to-think-about-implicit-bias/

Project Implicit [Website]. Harvard University. Retrieved from https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/selectatest.html

Runyon, L. (2014, August 22). All things considered: In changing America, gay masculinity has ‘many different shades’ [Audio podcast]. Podcast retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2014/08/22/339831032/in-changing-america-gay-masculinity-has-many-different-shades

Schulman, M. (2015, July 10). Is there a “gay voice”? The New Yorker. Retrieved from https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/is-there-a-gay-voice

Staats, C. (2016). Understanding implicit bias: What educators should know. American Educator, 39(4), 29-33. Retrieved from http://www.aft.org/sites/default/files/ae_winter2015staats.pdf

DW Sue (2010, November 17). Microaggressions: More than just race [web log comment]. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/microaggressions-in-everyday-life/201011/microaggressions-more-just-race

Teen Vogue (2015, November 23). Gus Kenworthy shares the 8 things you should never say to your gay friends [Video file]. Retrieved from www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgCzqlri_a0

University of Michigan. (2012, August 28). Sticks and stones: “That’s so gay” negatively affects gay students. Michigan News. Retrieved from https://news.umich.edu/sticks-and-stones-that-s-so-gay-negatively-affects-gay-students/

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