Heterosexual Privilege

Heterosexuality is identified as the norm in our culture. As such, it is a privileged position benefiting from societal and institutional reinforcement and carries with it the assumption that everyone does or should identify as heterosexual.

Some Examples of Heterosexual Privilege:

  • Opportunity to be viewed as a whole person, rather than defined primarily by your sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression
  • Ability to appear in public or to show public displays of affection with partner (e.g., kissing or holding hands) without fear of verbal or physical abuse
  • Many authentic portrayals in the media of people who share your sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression
  • Potential to join a fraternity, sorority, or similar organization without the fear of being rejected or isolated based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression
  • Ability to talk freely about or display pictures of romantic partners with friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, and members of your faith community without fear
  • Permission to legally marry and receive the associated legal and social benefits of marriage—social security benefits, tax-free inheritance, partner health benefits
  • No need for legal protection from discrimination in employment and housing based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression
  • Ability to have biological children without questions, to adopt or foster-parent a child in any state, or to gain custody of children if a partner dies
  • No compulsion or obligation to explain or dispel the myths of your own sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression
  • Terms that describe your sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression (e.g., straight, female, masculine) are not used culturally in derogatory ways
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