How to educate children and young people to avoid homophobia

Educating children and young people in respect, tolerance and diversity is the best way to avoid homophobia. We share some keys to address this goal.

How to educate children and young people to avoid homophobia
Elena Sanz

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz.

Last update: 11 November, 2022

Educating children and young people to avoid homophobia is one of the most effective ways to contribute to a problem that is still present in society. And it is that although we have made progress in terms of making sexual diversity visible and respecting human rights, there is still much to be done.

Unfortunately, homophobic attacks, discrimination and prejudice are still present and cause serious psychological damage to the victims. Hence the importance of reversing it. The truth is that the little ones surprise us by the ease with which they naturally understand, accept and respect differences.

In any case, cultural, social and family influences can impregnate them with stereotypes and erroneous beliefs which, later, will be reflected in homophobic attitudes. How to avoid it? Here some recommendations.

Why educate children and young people to avoid homophobia?

Frequently, some people make the mistake of assuming that sexual diversity is such a normalized issue that it is not necessary to influence it. However, the data reflect otherwise. Currently, 69 countries in the world criminalize homosexuality.

And to cite another example, in Spain the attacks and Hate crimes have increased considerably in recent years. Having said that, keep in mind that homophobia can cost the lives of many people in certain parts of the world.

In others, it constantly exposes them to harassment, discrimination and exclusion. This can to affect greatly affect their emotional health, leading to anxiety disorders, depression, substance abuse, and even suicidal ideation.

Among other things, the prejudices can lead to cases of internalized homophobiawhich leads those with a different sexual orientation to hide, repress their feelings and develop emotions of stress, shame, guilt, low self-esteem and emotional exhaustion.

Educating children and adolescents about sexual diversity can contribute to reducing the social problems derived from homophobia.

How to educate to avoid homophobia

Educating in respect and tolerance is essential to prevent children from suffering the aforementioned consequences in their own flesh or contributing to a partner or equal experiencing them in their day to day life.

Despite the fact that awareness and prevention campaigns against homophobia are already being carried out in schools, the truth is that the role of families is fundamental. It is in the home where values ​​are instilled, with a greater impact. Thus, there are several measures that can be implemented.

diversity education

Society seeks homogeneity in every way and pressures people to adapt to certain canons and norms. Therefore, the first step is to help children to recognize and value diversity; to understand that we are all different but equally valuable.

When it comes to preventing homophobia, it is necessary normalize the diversity of orientations and identities sexual so that children can know and understand them.

Homosexual, bisexual, transgender, heterosexual, etc… these are all concepts that we can help children become familiar with and understand as diverse legitimate ways of being and feeling.

homophobia awareness

A second essential step involves make them aware of what homophobia is, how it manifests And what repercussions does it have? And it is that it does not only consist of physical aggressions, insults or humiliations, it is not only about hatred or manifest rejection.

There are more subtle expressions, but equally harmful, that you should know and identify as such, for example, the following:

  • prejudices and stereotypes that label people. For example: “all homosexuals are effeminate or promiscuous.”
  • Fear or rejection to interact with homosexual people.
  • “Jokes” denoting contempt or disrespect.
  • negative attitudes of any kind towards people with sexual orientations different from the norm.
  • wrong beliefs, like stating that homosexuality is a disease or is a choice.

Fostering respect and empathy

Beyond information, it is key to educate respect for any human being, regardless of their identity or sexual orientation. But, for this, it is necessary to promote the empathy.

If we encourage children and young people to put themselves in the shoes of others, it will be easier for them understand their experiences and act with humanity. And it is that sometimes they may not be aware of the damage caused by homophobia and how they can impact, with their attitudes, the lives of other people.

There are several ways to encourage this empathy; from commenting on the news about homophobic aggression, to reading stories about it or watching movies with the family that deal with the subject. It all depends on the age of the minor. The video game and audiovisual immersive experiences are also a good resource.

tolerance example

Finally, we cannot forget that nothing teaches more than example, and that the attitudes of the parents will be the ones that have the greatest influence on the child, especially during his early years.

A) Yes, it is important that both mother and father show themselves open, tolerant and respectful. And not only with people outside the family nucleus, but also with their own children.

For example, allowing them to choose their clothes and haircut, their toys or the games they want to spend their time on, without labeling and without forcing certain attitudes. This openness and respect for their freedom will be the best way to transmit these values.

Parents must, through their example, promote tolerance and respect for different sexual identities.

Avoiding homophobia can save lives

In short, it should be remembered that education in values ​​is as important as teaching children to read or write. That said, it deserves time and dedication.

Transmit empathy and respect to children for diversity It helps to avoid emotional problems in the future. In addition, it favors the construction of a more open, healthy and tolerant society.

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How to educate children and young people to avoid homophobia