Everyday Stigma May Take Toll on Lesbians,
MONDAY, Oct. 10 (HealthDay News) -- The stigma and inequalities
that lesbian, gay and bisexual people face on a daily basis can
increase their stress level and affect their well-being, according
to a new study.
"Imagine living life anticipating exclusion from your friends, family and professional circles simply because of who you are and who you love -- that resulting stress takes a toll on one's life and health," said the study's co-author, Ilan Meyer, of the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law.
The researchers set out to determine how stress resulting from
daily, non-traumatic events, such as isolation at work and
estrangement from families, affected 57 lesbian, gay or bisexual
(LGB) people. The researchers were interested in everyday
occurrences, rather than overt abuse or hate crimes.
Black and Hispanic study participants reported the stress from
homophobia, racism and sexism led to certain missed life
opportunities, including educational advancement, and less
"For members of minority groups, day-to-day life experiences that may seem minor to others can and do have significant and lasting impact on one's well-being," said Meyer. "The idea that simply walking out your door will expose you to societal rejection and stigma creates a climate of stress that can lead to detrimental, long-term consequences."
The study was recently published online in
Sexuality Research and Social Policy.
If a silver lining is to be found, some of the participants
reported that being stigmatized helped to define them as
individuals and forced them to explore new and more positive
avenues they might not have considered otherwise.
The researchers concluded the findings could help shape public
policy by shedding light on the less obvious effects of social
inequality on lesbians, gays and bisexuals.
"The study's results show policymakers need to think more broadly than simply reducing extreme forms of abuse through measures like anti-bullying policies," said Meyer in a journal news release.
"Although reducing abuse and violence should be a primary focus, policy measures that enhance positive aspects of gay identity, like interventions that connect LGB persons to their communities, could help reduce the stress caused by social exclusion," Meyer said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides
more information on
gay, bisexual and transgender health.
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