Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ+) Pride Month is celebrated annually in June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots that took place in New York City. This uprising marked the beginning of the movement to outlaw discriminatory laws and practices against LGBTQ people. This annual celebration across the globe works to achieve equal justice and equal opportunity for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, and questioning Americans.
Below is a list of very common myths regarding LGBTQ+ population. While this is by no means an inclusive list, here are some of the more universal attitudes, and beliefs about members of the LGBTQ+ community.
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Myths that Stigmatize LGBTQ People
Myth: Homosexuality is a choice.
Reality: Sexual orientation is caused by factors such as genetics and the biology of brain development.
Scientific data indicate that sexual orientation (homosexuality or heterosexuality, i.e. gay or straight) is biologically based.1 While there is more to learn, studies suggest that what leads to a person being gay or straight lies within our genetics (i.e. DNA), epigenetics (i.e. how factors affect our genes), and what occurs in the developing brain before birth.
Myth: Homosexuality can be cured.
Reality: Therapy cannot change sexual orientation, and “reparative” therapy can be harmful.
Therapies that claim to change lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons into heterosexuals (e.g. “conversion” and “reparative” therapy) have been discredited. A task force within the American Psychological Association that reviewed years of research on therapeutic efforts determined that it is highly unlikely sexual orientation can be changed. In addition, the leading mental health and counseling organizations recommend against the use of conversion or reparative therapies. For a complete list, please refer to the website at the bottom of this article.
Myth: The parents did something wrong.
Reality: Nothing you did caused your child to be gay. However, the way you respond will have a huge impact on your child’s well-being.
Self-blame is often the initial response of parents who learn that their child is lesbian, gay, or bisexual. This is not true. A child’s sexual orientation is not learned from anyone, including parents. Just as a parent cannot cause a child to be heterosexual, or straight, a parent cannot cause a child to be gay. (See Myth #1)
Myth: Homosexuality is abnormal.
Reality: LGBTQ individuals are as mentally healthy as anyone else.
In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, and American Academy of Pediatrics issued this joint statement:
“Homosexuality is not an illness. It does not require treatment and is not changeable. Gender differences are normal expressions of human relationships.”
At that time, homosexuality was removed from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the official list of mental disorders and is no longer considered a mental illness.
LGBTQ individuals are as mentally healthy as anyone else. However, it is true that stigma, prejudice, and discrimination against LGBTQ individuals create a hostile and stressful social environment that cause mental health problems as well as raise the likelihood of suicide attempts and other self-harming behaviors.
Myth: If we allow LGBTQ marriage, anyone wanting to be married can have any meaningful relationship defined as marriage.
Reality: Marriage will always be between two consenting adults.
This is the “slippery slope” argument. By definition, marriage must be between two consenting adults. This prevents marrying a child, marrying a pet, and other extreme examples used in comparison to same-sex marriage. None of these cases include two adults who give consent.
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