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Indiana University Bloomington

Sexual Orientation Related Teaching Tips

  • Assume that not all students in a class are heterosexual.
  • React firmly to homophobic remarks made in class. Laughing them off in the hopes they will go away does not work. A "respect for your classmates" contract or class rule at the beginning of class helps.
  • Give assignments that will not force gays or lesbians to describe their social life or to "come out" against their will.
  • Use acceptable terms when speaking about gay and lesbian issues
    • significant other or partner not boyfriend or girlfriend (this forces "coming out")
    • sexual orientation not sexual preference (this implies people are gay just for the fun of it. Gay and lesbian people do not feel they have chosen this: this is who they are by nature).
    • not lifestyle (again, this implies choice. As one man put it: "Living on a lake is a lifestyle, being gay is a life.")
  • Do not assume that HIV positive people are all gay, or that only gay people engage in activities which put themselves and others at risk.