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Sexual Orientation–Based Social Discrimination: United States

Discrimination based on sexual orientation is typically understood as acts that harm lesbian women or gay men. These acts or behavior often involve gay and lesbian people being treated differently because of their sexual orientation. Social discrimination includes double standards of treatment, when gay or lesbian people are treated worse than heterosexual people. In these cases, lesbian women and gay men would not have confronted discrimination if they were heterosexual. Moreover, these discriminatory acts often stem from prejudice, or negative ideas, about lesbian women and gay men. Social discrimination, which can occur in many settings, differs from legal discrimination to the extent that it is not part of U.S. law. Nevertheless, social discrimination can have significant effects on lesbian women and gay men.

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