How Gender Affects Heterosexual Allies’ Intentions of Confronting Sexual Prejudice

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Sexual prejudice and discrimination are extremely prevalent throughout society, and previous research suggests that there are a multitude of negative consequences associated with being the target of this prejudice. One way of reducing prejudice is for heterosexual allies to confront the perpetrator of sexually prejudicial behaviors. The current study utilized an experimental design to examine how the gender of the perpetrator, target, and nontarget witness of heterosexist prejudice, as well as the interaction of these gender variables, affects the witness’ responses to a derogatory heterosexist statement. A sample of 254 (140 women) heterosexual undergraduate college students watched 1 of 4 videos in which a perpetrator (man or woman) “approaches” them and makes heterosexist comments about a lesbian woman or gay man and then answered questions about how they would respond if they were in that situation. Additionally, they reported on their attitudes about the comments and the perpetrator. Results suggest that gender of the participant, target, and particularly the perpetrator, all play a significant role in responses to heterosexist hate speech. Implications for reduction of prejudice and future research are discussed.

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