Heterosexual identity and heterosexism: recognizing privilege to reduce prejudice.


We propose that heterosexuals' attitudes toward their own heterosexual identity evolve in a manner similar to the development of racial identity attitudes among Whites-another dominant group with privileged social status. A more developed heterosexual identity, we hypothesized, would be associated with diminished levels of negative attitudes toward non-heterosexuals. To test our hypotheses, we administered to 154 heterosexual students Herek's (1988) Attitudes Toward Gays and Lesbians scale measuring heterosexist (i.e., anti-gay) attitudes and a version of Helms and Carter's (1990) White Racial Identity Attitude Scale (WRIAS) modified to assess heterosexual identity attitudes. Hierarchical regression analyses controlling demographic indicators partially confirmed the hypothesized associations between evolving identity stages and less heterosexist attitudes. The role of recognizing one's social privilege is proposed (though not empirically examined) as a potential mediator between developing a dominant group identity and decreasing prejudicial attitudes towards non-privileged groups. Finally, implications and recommendations for future research and addressing heterosexism are presented.

Cite this paper

@article{Simoni2001HeterosexualIA, title={Heterosexual identity and heterosexism: recognizing privilege to reduce prejudice.}, author={Jane M. Simoni and Kristi L. Walters}, journal={Journal of homosexuality}, year={2001}, volume={41 1}, pages={157-72} }