Gender Gaps in Public Opinion about Lesbians and Gay Men - GREGORY M. HEREK - 2002
Using data from a 1999 national RDD survey (N = 1,335), this article examines gender gaps in heterosexuals' attitudes toward lesbians, gay men, and a variety of topics related to homosexuality. Attitudes toward lesbians differed from attitudes toward gay men in several areas, and significant differences were observed between male and female heterosexual respondents. Survey participants generally were more likely to regard gay men as mentally ill, supported adoption rights for lesbians more than for gay men, and had more negative personal reactions to gay men than to lesbians. Overall, heterosexual women were more supportive than men of employment protection and adoption rights for gay people, more willing to extend employee benefits to same-sex couples, and less likely to hold stereotypical beliefs about gay people. Heterosexual men's negative reactions to gay men were at the root of these gender differences. Of all respondent-by-target combinations, heterosexual men were the least supportive of recognition of same-sex relationships and adoption rights for gay men, most likely to believe that gay men are mentally ill and molest children, and most negative in their affective reactions to gay men. Heterosexual men's response patterns were affected by item order, suggesting possible gender differences in the cognitive organization of attitudes toward gay men and lesbians. The findings demonstrate the importance of differentiating lesbians from gay men as attitude targets in survey research.
The Relation Between Gender and Negative Attitudes Toward Gay Men and Lesbians: Do Gender Role Attitudes Mediate This Relation? - John G. Kerns and Mark A. Fine - 1994
This study examined whether traditional gender role attitudes mediated the relation between gender and negative attitudes toward gay men and lesbians. One hundred and fifty-five heterosexual college students (59% female; 97%
Caucasian) completed questionnaires that assessed their attitudes toward gay men and lesbians and their gender role attitudes. Although males reported more negative attitudes toward gay men than females, there were no gender
differences in attitudes toward lesbians. Traditional gender role attitudes mediated the relation between gender and attitudes toward gay men. These findings suggest that attitudes toward gay men are more strongly related to
gender role attitudes than to gender. [...]
Although most studies that have used Herek's (1988) Attitudes Toward Lesbians and Gay Men Scale (ATLG) have found
that men have more negative attitudes toward lesbians than women (Herek, 1994), the gender differences have been relatively small (Kite, 1984) and a few studies that did not use the ATGL found that men held more favorable
attitudes toward lesbians than women (Whitley, 1987, 1988).[...]
Consistent with previous research (Kite, 1984, 1994; McDevitt et al., 1990; Herek, 1994) heterosexual males had more negative attitudes toward gay men than did heterosexual females. However, although males had more negative attitudes toward lesbians than did females, this difference was not significant. This general pattern was consistent with previous research indicating that gender differences are greater in negative attitudes toward gay men than in attitudes toward lesbians (Herek, 1994; Kite, 1984, 1994). Further, although not a primary focus of our study, we also found that both male and female participants had more negative attitudes toward gay men than toward lesbians, with this difference being greatest for male respondents.
Collectively, these findings suggest that an aversion to male homosexuality may be a more central component of heterosexual males' traditional gender roles than is an aversion to homosexuality/n general (Herek, 1992; Mishkind et al., 1986). Violations from traditional gender roles may be particularly aversive to heterosexual males because these breaches are perceived as a threat to their social privilege and power. Within the context of attitudes toward homosexual individuals, gay men are apparently perceived by heterosexual men as deviating more from traditional gender roles than lesbians.[...]
Indeed, the most important and novel contribution of this study was the demonstration that traditional gender role attitudes mediated the relation between gender and negative attitudes toward gay men. When the traditional attitudes toward gender roles variable was entered into the regression equation, gender was no longer significantly related to negative attitudes toward gay men (i.e., males and females no longer differed in negative attitudes toward gay men). This finding lends support to our notion that a difference between heterosexual males and females in their adherence
to traditional gender role attitudes may be a mechanism that is partly responsible for the gender difference in negative attitudes toward gay men.
In addition, several tenets of our gender role socialization model were supported. Specifically, consistent with previous studies, heterosexual males endorsed more traditional gender roles than did heterosexual females (Kurdek,
1988; Stark, 1991) and negative attitudes toward gay men and lesbians were positively related to traditional gender role attitudes (Kurdek, 1988; Stark, 1991).[...]
At the most basic level, our findings suggest that individuals' attitudes toward gay men [...] appear to be based less on their biological sex (i.e., male or female) than on their gender role attitudes.