Heterosexism is an ideological system that privileges heterosexuality while simultaneously stigmatizing, erasing, or otherwise denigrating lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and queer (LGBTQ) sexuality, relationships, and identities. Whereas homophobia is frequently understood as an individual's expression of sexual prejudice against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and/or queer people, heterosexism operates at the institutional level.

Although heterosexism can be realized in social interaction among small groups of individuals, it is the structurally supported belief in the naturalness and superiority of heterosexuality that fuels heterosexist interactions. Without intending to be homophobic, persons, organizations, and institutions may foster heterosexism simply by reinforcing the primacy of heterosexuality. Heterosexism resembles institutionalized racism, sexism, classism, sizeism, and other systematic forms of oppression.

The related postmodern term heteronormativity, sometimes used interchangeably with the term ...

  • Loading...
locked icon

Sign in to access this content

Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

  • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
  • Read modern, diverse business cases
  • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles