Before the 20th century, research about LGBT issues was practically non-existent. Even in the 20th century there were still not many scholarly studies conducted. Some say the riots that broke out in 1969 at the Stonewall Inn, a bar in New York, after a long pattern of harassment, were the start of the LGBT civil rights movement (Wetzel, 2001). During the 1960s and 1970s intense debates took place as the fight to remove the diagnostic label that identified homosexuality as a disease (Meyer, 2013). In 1973 this was finally achieved when the second edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders removed homosexuality from its list of disorders. Even after this was achieved though, some psychologists were still trying to help clients remove their homosexual beliefs using reparative therapies, aversive conditioning, and covert sensitization (Ford, 2001).
The women’s movement led the way for the LGBT movement, by introducing sexuality as a legitimate area for discussion of rights (Wetzel, 2001). Although, it may seem to be progressing slowly, the movement is advancing as LGBT people gain more rights and win more legal battles.
People are taught the behaviors and roles that each gender should fulfill. How well their personal beliefs match these gender norms influence physical, mental, and social health (World Health Organization, 2015). The stigma, bias, and discrimination associated with being an LGBT person can explain why they experience increased mental health disorders, such as depression (Meyer, 2013).
Many research studies include descriptive statistics that include gender. How easy it would be to expand those statistics to include whether participants identify as an LGBT person. Psychologists need to understand how someone’s identity as an LGBT person effects all aspects of their work, family, and social lives.
Understanding the LGBT perspective brings increased tolerance!
Do you have any experiences where this perspective, or the lack of it, has made a difference in your world?
Ford, J. G. (2001). Healing homosexuals: A psychologist’s journey through the ex-gay movement and the pseudo-science of reparative therapy. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Psychology, 5(3-4), 69-86.
Meyer, I. H. (2003). Prejudice, social stress, and mental health in lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations: Conceptual issues and research evidence. Psychological Bulletin, 129(5), 674–697.
Wetzel, J. W. (2001) Human Rights in the 20th Century. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, 13(1-2), 15-31. doi: 10.1300/J041v13n01_03
World Health Organization. (2015). Gender. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/trade/glossary/story032/en/