Centenary's Safe Zone Allies program works to deepen individual awareness of ideas, stereotypes, and assumptions related to sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. A related goal is to help all students gain an increased level of knowledge about and comfort in discussing issues such as heterosexism and homophobia.

 

Campus Resources

 

Local Resources

All Souls’ Unitarian Universalist Church: LGBT-friendly church, worship: Sunday 11:00am
9449 Ellerbe Road, 318-868-3313; office@allsoulsuushreveport.org

Christ Church of Hope: Non-denominational, non-judgmental, Bible-based congregation, worship: Sunday 6:00pm
111 Freestate Blvd Suite 105, 318-868-3444

Louisiana TransAdvocates:  Non-profit supporting the transgender community and allies, support group meeting: 1st Sundays, 1:30-3:00pm, All Souls Unitarian Universalist church (9449 Ellerbe Rd)

P.A.C.E. (People Acting for Change and Equality): Shreveport-based non-profit organization working for political equality, co-sponsors Gay & Lesbian Film Festival in the fall and annual Gay Pride Dinner in June

PFLAG (Parents, Friends, and Family of Lesbians & Gays): Organization that focuses on education, advocacy, and support; meetings: 3rd Saturday 10am (Philadelphia Center, 2020 Centenary Boulevard) 318-638-8609

TransGender Alternatives Project: Support group for transgender and questioning people in the Shreveport/Bossier area

 

State Resources

Capital City Alliance: Non-profit education and advocacy group for LGBT people in the state of Louisiana.
info@ccabatonrouge.org

Forum for Equality: Non-profit and political action committee fighting for equality in Louisiana
336 Lafayette Street, Suite 200, New Orleans, LA 70130, 504-569-9156

 

National Resources

The Advocate: LGBT news magazine

American Civil Liberties Union:  Nonpartisan organization which brings lawsuits designed to impact civil right and constitutional law to achieve LGBTQIA equality

Bisexual Resource Center: Provides education about and support for bisexual issues.

GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network): Organization for students, parents, and teachers that works to affect change in schools

Human Rights Campaign: Organization that works for LGBT rights

Intersex Society of North America: Now-defunct organization, but outstanding resource for information about intersexuality

Lambda Legal: Legal organization working for civil rights of LGBT people and individuals with HIV/AIDS

LGBTQ Mental Health - A comprehensive guide by the National LGBT Health Education Center that includes research and statistics on the health disparities within the LGBTQ community

LGBTQ Addiction Guide - A research-based awareness guide which provides information and support systems that can be using in overcoming the challenges of finding resources to address substance abuse in the LGBTQ community

PFLAG (Parents, Friends, and Family of Lesbians and Gays): National organization providing information and support

Point Foundation: Organization empowers promising LGBTQ students to achieve their full academic and leadership potential

LGBT Resources & Support: Provides resources and support for LGBTQ teens and college students.

 

Q & A

What is 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

What is homophobia?

Homophobia is the irrational fear, hatred of, aversion to, or discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people or behavior. Homophobia may be expressed by people of any sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. There are many incidents of homophobia that happen every day on a variety of levels from overt to more subtle occurrences.

You do not have to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer to be negatively affected by homophobia. Though homophobia actively oppresses LGBTQ individuals, it also hurts those who identify as heterosexual. Homophobia and being unaware of heterosexual privilege hurts all of us in these ways:

  • Places people into rigid, tradition-based gender roles that may inhibit a person’s creativity and self-expression.
  • May keep those who identify as heterosexual from forming close and intimate relationships with members of their own sex for fear of being perceived as LGBTQ
  • Prevents some people from developing an authentic self-identity—either by limiting choices of LGBTQ-identified people or by reinforcing heteronormative stereotypes and expectations on those who identify as heterosexual, such as marriage and having children
  • Stigmatizes those who identify as heterosexual too—children of LGBTQ parents; parents of LGBTQ children; individuals who are perceived or labeled by others as LGBTQ; and friends of LGBTQ-identified people

Sexuality: Questions & Answers from the American Psychological Association

Visit the American Psychological Association topics page on sex and sexuality and get answers to questions such as:

  • What is sexual orientation?
  • Is homosexuality a mental disorder?
    (NO)
  • Can lesbians and gay men be good parents? (YES)
  • What can people do to diminish prejudice and discrimination against lesbian, gay, and bisexual people?

 

Homophobic vs. Positive Levels of Attitude - The Riddle Scale

Homophobic Levels of Attitude:

  • Repulsion: Homosexuality is seen as a crime against nature. Gays and lesbians are sick, crazy, immoral, sinful, wicked. Anything is justified to change them—prison, hospitalization, negative behavior therapy, violence, etc.
  • Pity: Represents heterosexual chauvinism. Heterosexuality is more mature and certainly to be preferred. Any possibility of becoming "straight" should be reinforced, and those who seem to be born that way should be pitied.
  • Tolerance: Homosexuality is just a phase of adolescent development that many people go through and most people grow out of. Thus, gays and lesbians are less mature than heterosexuals and should be treated with the protectiveness and indulgence one uses with a child. Gays and lesbians should not be given positions of authority because they are still working through their adolescent behavior.
  • Acceptance: Still implies there is something to accept. Characterized by such statements as “you’re not a lesbian, you're a person" or “what you do is your own business” or "it’s fine with me, just don't flaunt it."

    Positive Levels of Attitude:

  • Support: Works to safeguard the rights of lesbians and gays. People at this level may be uncomfortable themselves but they are aware of the homophobic climates and irrational unfairness.
  • Admiration: Acknowledges that being gay or lesbian in our society takes strength. People at his level are willing to truly examine their homophobic attitudes, values, and behaviors.
  • Appreciation: Values the diversity of people and see gays and lesbians as a valid part of that diversity. These people are willing to combat homophobia in themselves and others.
  • Nurturance: Assumes that gay and lesbian people are indispensable in our society. They view gays and lesbians with genuine affection and delight, and are willing to be allies and advocates.

    Riddle, D. I, (1994). The Riddle scale. Alone no more: Developing a school support system for gay, lesbian and bisexual youth. St Paul: Minnesota State Department.

 

Terms & Definitions

LGBTQ communities use various terms, phrases, and words to define and/or identify LGBTQ persons, allies, or concepts. Definitions of these terms and phrases are constantly changing, often contested, and based upon personal preferences and social changes.

Ally: A person who supports equal civil rights and gender equality and challenges the stereotypes associated with the LGBTQ community.

Androgyny/Androgynous: Simultaneously exhibiting masculine and feminine characteristics.

Asexual: A person who is not physically attracted to anyone, but can experience emotional and romantic feelings, and/or does not identify with a sexual orientation.

Assigned Gender: The gender assignment at birth based on the appearance of one’s external genitalia.

Biological Sex: Classification of one’s sex as determined at birth as male, female, or intersex based on anatomical, chromosomal, and hormonal characteristics. Often referred to as sex and used interchangeably—and incorrectly—with gender.

Bisexual: A person who is attracted to and may form sexual and affectionate relationships with either men or women.

Biphobia: Irrational fear and hatred of bisexual people, behavior, and/or bisexuality in general.

Butch: Displaying stereotypically masculine gender characteristics. This is related to the butch/femme stereotype, the idea that in a lesbian relationship one partner portrays the masculine or butch role and the other displays the feminine or femme role.

Cisgender: Describes when assigned gender and current gender identity are the same Cis- is the Latin prefix for ‘on the same side as’.

Closet/Closeted: A person who conceals his or her sexual orientation or gender identity is ‘closeted’ or ‘in the closet’. The closet represents a hiding place for one’s sexuality, gender expression, and/or gender identity.

Coming Out: Process of recognizing and accepting one’s sexual orientation, gender expression, and/or identity. Also refers to the act of disclosing one’s sexual orientation, gender expression, and/or identity to others. Also known as ‘coming out of the closet’.

Cross-Dress: Dressing in a manner considered culturally inappropriate for one’s assigned gender, typically dressing in clothing representing the other gender. This is unrelated to one’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Sometimes considered to be more of a behavior versus cross-dressing which is considered by some to be more of an identity.

Drag: Refers to individuals who dress in culturally appropriate clothing, typically in a performance role, inconsistent with their assigned gender. King: female dressed in male clothing; Queen: male dressed in female clothing.

Dyke: Reclaimed derogatory slang, referring to lesbians or bisexual women who act stereotypically masculine. Can still be used negatively, and may also include defining one’s progressive-political affiliations as well.

Fag/Faggot: Typically, a derogatory word referring to gay males. In some gay communities, these words are being reclaimed to describe a gay man who acts stereotypically effeminate.

Fag Hag: Generally offensive term describing a heterosexual female friend of a gay male.

Femme: Displaying stereotypically feminine gender characteristics. This is related to the butch/femme stereotype, the idea that in a lesbian relationship one partner portrays the masculine or butch role and the other displays the feminine or femme role.

Flaming/Flamer: Typically, this term is a derogatory word referring to a gay male who behaves in effeminate ways.

FTM: Female to Male. This refers to the direction of a transgender-identified person’s gender change from female to male.

Gay: Describes a male who is attracted to and may form sexual and affectionate relationships with the same-sex. Often gay is used to describe both men and women who partner with the same-sex; this is not universally preferred. Personal preference should define how one is identified.

Gender: A sociological construct defining the collection of characteristics that are culturally associated with maleness or femaleness Note that the term gender is not interchangeable with the term sex.

Gender Dysphoria: This is the medical term for the psychological experience for a person whose physical appearance and/or sex organs do not match his or her gender identity.

Gender Expression: The way a person acts to communicate gender within one’s culture; this may or may not be consistent with prescribed gender roles, and may or may not reflect his or her gender identity

Gender Queer: Slang word for one who crosses gender lines through appearance, behaviors, and/or attitudes without necessarily trying to pass as the other gender. May identify as multigendered or genderless. Also known as Gender Bender.

Gender Identity: A person’s sense of him or herself as male, female, both, or neither regardless of assigned gender.

Gender Role: The norms of expected behavior for men and women defined by a particular culture.

Hermaphrodite: An outdated and somewhat derogatory term for someone who has both male and female sex organs.

Heterosexism: Societal and institutional reinforcement of heterosexuality as the privileged sexuality and norm; with the assumption that everyone identifies as heterosexual.

Homophobia: The irrational fear, hatred of, aversion to, or discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people or behavior.

Homosexual: A generally derogatory term to describe individuals who partner with the same sex. It is preferable to use a person’s preferred term (for example, lesbian, gay man, bisexual) and the phrase same-sex as the adjectival form.

Internalized Homophobia: Experience of shame, aversion, or self-hatred in reaction to one’s own feelings of attraction for a person of the same sex. This type of homophobia can be experienced by the LGBTQ community and those who partner with the opposite sex.

Intersex: A term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male; see www.isna.org or www.accordalliance.org for more information.

Lesbian: Defines a female who is attracted to and may form sexual and affectionate relationships with the same sex. Often lesbians are incorporated into the term gay; which is used to describe both men and women who partner with the same sex, but this is not universally preferred. Personal preference should define how one is identified.

MTF: Male to Female. This refers to the direction of a transgender-identified person’s gender change from male to female.

Out (someone): To disclose someone else’s sexual orientation or gender identity without permission from that person.

Pansexual: Term used to describe a person who is sexually attracted to all or many gender expressions. Gender and sex are unimportant or irrelevant in determining romantic, emotional, or physical attraction to others.

Partner: Gender-neutral and non-heterosexist method of describing someone’s ‘boyfriend/girlfriend’, or ‘husband/wife’; using this terminology is most often preferred in LGBTQ communities. Another commonly used term is significant other.

Passing: When used by transgender people, means that they are seen as the gender with which they self-identify.

Queer: A term with varied meanings. In the mid-late 20th century this was a derogatory slang term for the LGBTQ community and currently is still used by some in this manner. In the early 1990s many individuals and organizations began to reclaim this term. Some people use it as an all-inclusive or umbrella term to refer to all people who identify as LGBTQ. This usage is not accepted by the entire community. Often used by people who wish to challenge norms of sexuality and/or gender expression as well as to defy identities and labeling of persons.

Questioning: Term used to describe a person unsure, exploring, questioning, and/or concerned about applying labels to their sexuality, gender expression, and/or gender identity.

Rainbow Flag: Designed in 1978 for Gay Pride in San Francisco, the colors symbolize the diversity within the LGBTQ community. Now used to identify LGBTQ persons, allies, and to celebrate diversity and pride with the LGBTQ community.

Sex Reassignment Surgeries: Surgical procedures that change an individual’s body to make it conform to a person’s gender identity. While many use the term in the singular, in fact there are many different surgeries. ‘Sex change surgery’ is derogatory form of this concept.

Transgender (TG): an umbrella term that includes a wide range of identities which includes pre-transition, post-transition, and non-transitional transpeople as well as female impersonators and cross-dressers. It can refer to anyone whose behavior or identity falls outside of the stereotypical expectations of their gender.

Transphobia: The irrational fear, hatred of, aversion to, or discrimination against people who identify as transgender.

Transsexual (TS): An individual whose gender identity differs from what is culturally associated with their biological sex at birth, typically those who undergo medical procedures such as taking hormones or surgery. This is unrelated to sexual orientation.

Transitioning: The period during which a transperson begins to live as their new gender; common activities during this period may include changing one’s name or legal documents to reflect their gender identity, taking hormones, or having surgery.

Transvestite (TV): Dressing in a manner considered culturally inappropriate for one’s assigned gender, typically dressing in clothing representing the other gender. This is unrelated to one’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Sometimes considered to be more of an identity versus cross-dressing which is considered by some to be more of a behavior.

 

Supporting LGBTQ Individuals

As outlined by the Riddle Scale, people may be anywhere in their attitude towards supporting LGBTQ individuals. Below we suggest ways that we can each be more supportive of all people in our community regardless of their sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions.

  • Work to develop an understanding of heterosexism, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, and the needs of LGBTQ people, but don’t be afraid to ask questions
  • Serve as a source of support and of accurate information
  • Do not make assumptions about others’ sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Be willing to discuss issues that have an impact on LGBTQ individuals in a non-judgmental manner
  • Be aware of issues, big and small, in the LGBTQ community, for example, use inclusive language, such as partner or significant other, instead of gender specific terms like boyfriend or girlfriend
  • Don’t preface a statement on LGBTQ issues with “I’m straight, but...”
  • React negatively to heterosexist/sexist jokes, slurs, comments, and stereotypes
  • Respect the privacy of LGBTQ students
  • Publicly acknowledge LGBTQ individuals’ presence on campus and in society
  • Don’t think of people as “my gay student” or “my lesbian friend”
  • Don’t expect an LGBTQ person to speak for the entire LGBTQ community


When a friend comes out

Someone who is coming out feels close enough to you and trusts you sufficiently to be honest and risk losing you as a friend. It is difficult to know what to say and do to be a supportive friend to someone who has come out to you. Below are some suggestions you may wish to follow:

  • Thank your friend for having the courage to tell you. Choosing to tell you means that there is a great deal of respect and trust for you.
  • Respect your friend's confidentiality. They probably are not ready to tell others right away and want to tell people in their own way.
  • Remember that LGBTQ people receive the same message about their sexualities as everyone else. Therefore, LGBTQ individuals often suffer from internalized homophobia and heterosexism. It is important to recognize the risks of coming-out and challenging internal oppression. Be prepared for your friend to have mood swings.
  • Tell your friend that you still care about them, no matter what. Be the friend you have always been. The main fear for people coming out is that their friends and family will reject them.
  • Be prepared to include your friend in more of your plans. They may have lost the support of other friends and family and your time and friendship will be even more precious to them. This may include family times like holidays or special celebrations.
  • Don't judge your friend. lf you have strong religious or other beliefs about homosexuality, keep them to yourself for now. There will be plenty of time in the future for you to think and talk about your beliefs in light of your friend's orientation.
  • Do what you have always done together. Your friend probably feels that coming out will change everything in their life, and this is frightening. If you always go to the movies on Friday, then continue that.
  • Be aware of the coming-out process and realize that it is not a simple one-time event.

A special note: Because we live in a society that is not yet accepting of LGBTQ individuals, some students feel isolated and alienated, or they may experience anxiety from ongoing heterosexism and homophobia, or fear violence. Consequently, LGBTQ students can be at greater risk for depression and suicide, but those with more support and access to resources may feel less isolated.

Please recognize when a friend needs more help than you can provide. Do not attempt to diagnose, counsel, or treat someone who you feel is at risk of suicide or other harmful behaviors. Refer them to the Centenary Counseling Center.

 

Heterosexual Questionnaire

If we turn around questions commonly asked of LGBTQ people, we can see a different perspective on sexual orientation:

  • What do you think caused your heterosexuality?
  • When and where did you first decide you were a heterosexual?
  • Is it possible that your heterosexuality is just a phase?
  • Is it possible that your heterosexuality stems from a neurotic fear of others of the same sex?
  • If you have never slept with someone of the same sex and enjoyed it, is it possible that all you need is a good same-sex lover?
  • To whom have you disclosed your heterosexual tendencies?
  • Why do heterosexuals seem compelled to seduce or recruit others into their lifestyle?
  • Why do you insist on flaunting your heterosexuality? Can't you just be who you are and keep it quiet?
  • With so many child molesters being heterosexual, do you feel safe exposing your child to heterosexual teachers?
  • Why do heterosexuals place so much emphasis on sex or sexual acts?
  • With the menace of overpopulation, could the world survive if everyone were heterosexual?