Heterosexual Privilege*

This is page 40 of Janis Bohan’s book Psychology and Sexual Orientation: Coming to Terms. We do not claim any of the following as my words or content. This is being used in an educational resource context. All the credit for this page goes to Janis Bohan. Also, some has changed legally between now and the 1980s, however, most of this page rings true even today.

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  • Taking for granted everything on this list. Living without every having to think twice, face, confront, engage or cope with any of these things, seeing them as given rather than as privileges.
    • Heterosexual people may reflect on these privileges, but they are not forced to by their personal identity and experience
  • Coupling and marrying… which include the following privileges.
    • Public recognition for your intimate relationships (e.g., receiving calls or cards of congratulations celebrating your commitment, supporting activities and social expectations for longevity and stability in your committed relationships)
    • Join child custody
    • Paid leave when grieving the death of a spouse
    • Leave to care for an ill partner or for a funeral or other crisis in your partner’s immediate family
    • Immediate access to your loved one in case of emergency; the right to make medical and financial decisions when your partner is unable to do so
    • Support for and pride in your relationship from your family of origin
  • Self acceptance: Knowing your sexual orientation is acceptable
    • Having role models from childhood who show your affectional and sexual orientation as normal
    • Learning about romance and relationships you can identify from fiction, movies, and television
    • Having positive public role models with whom you can identify
  • Validation from culture in which you live
    • Dating the people you are attracted to in your teen years
    • Talking about your relationship, including whatever projects, plans, vacations, activities you and your partner undertake
    • Expressing pain when a relationship ends from death or separation, and finding acknowledgment and support from others
    • Receiving social acceptance from neighbors, colleagues, friends
    • Not having to hide or lie about single-sex social activities
    • Living your life without always being identified by your sexual orientation (e.g., you get to be a farmer, a teacher, etc., without being labeled the heterosexual teacher)
  • Institutional acceptance:
    • Employment opportunity: socializing with colleagues increases opportunities for getting a job, receiving on-the-job training, and promotions; no risk of losing your job because of your sexual/affectional orientation
    • Proper laws, filing joint tax returns, automatically inheriting from your under probate laws
    • Sharing health, auto, and homeowner’s policies at reduced rates; having both partners and all children covered by one partner’s health insurance
    • Receiving validation from your religious community; being able to celebrate your relationship within that community; being a member of the clergy
    • Being able to work as a teacher in preschool through high school without fear of being fired if you are discovered; no one assumes that you molested or recruit children to your way of living
    • Adopting children, serving as a foster parent
    • Raising children without the threat of their being taken from you and without having to worry about whether their friends might reject them because of their parents’ sexual and affectional orientation
    • Being able to serve in the military without having to cover up who you are
  • Integrity about who you are, safety in your identity

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Bohan, Janis S. “Psychology and Sexual Orientation.Google Books. Psychology Press, 1996, n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2016.

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