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Heterosexism refers to the cultural ideology that reproduces the normative and privileged status of heterosexuality in most aspects of people’s lives, vilifying and stigmatizing nonheterosexual (referred to in this entry as LGBTQ) behaviors, identities, relationships, and communities. Heterosexism includes institutionalized negative attitudes and beliefs about LGBTQ sexualities as inferior, unnatural, and deviant, thereby reproducing sexual stigma. Heterosexism may also include sexual prejudice, the harmful attitudes and beliefs individuals hold about LGBTQ people. It is manifested in a range of behaviors, the most extreme being violent and murderous hate crimes against LGBTQ people—that is, criminal acts perpetrated on the basis of an individual’s perceived sexual orientation. This entry discusses heterosexism in conjunction with homophobia, a term with which it is often used interchangeably, before examining aspects ...

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