Sexual Minority Report: a survey of Student Attitudes

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(Sexual) Minority Report: A Survey of Student Attitudes

Regarding the Social and Cultural Environment for Sexual Minorities

By Sarah Medina

This research project surveyed students at Saint Mary’s College, IN to examine their understanding and feelings about sexual minorities. By assuming a hegemonic ideal of sexual behavior exist, I examine how those who are outside of these values are affected. The survey asked the respondent how they would react in certain situations regarding racial, ethnic, and class minorities and sexual minorities. Factors included the number of classes that the respondent has taken dealing with minority issues, the knowledge of resources, and the availability of resources. Most respondents were more comfortable in situations with racial, ethnic, and class minorities than they were in the same situations as sexual minorities. There was average knowledge of resources available on campus that respondents were aware of, but many were unsure or neutral about these resources. The evaluation of classes that deal with sexual minority issues were also unsure or neutral.

(Sexual) Minority Report: A Survey of Student Attitudes

Regarding the Social and Cultural Environment for Sexual Minorities

The social environment shapes the way in which people think, behavior, and react to others in a society. The social environment is a reflection of hegemonic values of the society. Hegemonic values are created by the “predominate influence of one state over another” (American Heritage Dictionary 1992:838). In American society, the predominate influence is white, male, heterosexual and middle-class. When a person does not fit into all of these groups they considered to be deviant and are marginalized in society as minorities.

While many people are aware of the hegemonic values of race and sex, the heterosexual hegemonic view is often ignored, and the impact of heterosexism on society is often overlooked. Perhaps this is because a person’s sexuality can be hidden; it is not always as apparent to others as race, ethnicity, class, or gender.

One of the benefits of fitting into the hegemonic values of a society is that the privileges given to the dominant group are taken for granted. Recently in American society, there have been debates, especially political, challenging these hegemonic values regarding sexuality. New policies encourage businesses and states to adopt equal partner benefits, such as health insurance and non-discrimination policies, marriage rights, and the right to have children for sexual minorities—those who do not identify as heterosexual.

People are beginning to understand the issues that sexual minorities face through education and having personal contact with sexual minorities. In this study, I will be looking at a specific social environment to identify feelings about and understandings of sexual minorities and the issues that they face everyday, and I will also examine the factors help people to understand issues of sexual minorities.

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