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17 May 2012

Praise: University of Washington on Gaydar

One of the arguments that is sometimes made against including LGBTQ people in hate crime legislation is that we are not really discriminated again.  After all, unlike most who are Black, we can "pass".  But, then again, maybe we cannot.

Back in January, there was a study out of Albright College that indicated that homosexuals may have less symmetrical facial features than heterosexuals.  This week we are learning about a study out of the University of Washington that indicates that people's gaydar, the ability to discern whether someone is gay or straight, may be real particularly at discerning lesbians.
After seeing faces for less than a blink of an eye, college students have accuracy greater than mere chance in judging others’ sexual orientation. Their "gaydar" persisted even when they saw the photos upside-down, and gay versus straight judgments were more accurate for women’s faces than for men’s.
The findings, published May 16 in the open-access online journal PLoS ONE, suggest that we unconsciously make gay and straight distinctions.
From the discussion section of the full paper:
[I]t would appear that minority sexual orientation is not the concealed stigma that many argue it is. Indeed, the need to protect gay people from discrimination would seem increasingly urgent to the extent that minority sexual orientation is tacitly inferred from aspects of personal appearance that are routinely available for inspection (e.g., faces).
Discrimination is real and we now know a little more about how that occurs.  We also know that heterosexuals may be discriminated against because of false impressions that they are homosexual.  Important for all in society to consciously endeavor to avoid discriminating against the LGBTQ Community.

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