The Pervasive Heterosexualizing of American Youth

02/21/2014 09:35 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

The pervasive heterosexualizing of American youth is becoming worse, more severe, and more dangerous. Allow me to explain. More and more, I am reading about and seeing the following words and terms: "vulnerable youth," "sexual minority or minority youth," "at-risk youth," "questioning youth," and one of my new favorites: "heterosexual questioning youth." Such words/terms have replaced "LGBTQ youth." (By now I should not have to explain the abbreviation "LGBTQ," but for those heteronorms who still do not know, LGBTQ stands for "lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer.") This is compulsory heterosexuality at its best and brightest, and I think that Adrienne Rich would agree.

One must ask the following important questions: Who is considered a vulnerable youth? Aren't all youth vulnerable? What is the vulnerability? And vulnerable from whom and what? What exactly is a sexual minority? Who is the sexual majority? Why are youth at risk, and at risk of what? Isn't adolescence filled with risks? And exactly what is the youth questioning, and why? And to whom are they posing such questions? Are they receiving answers?

The homophobia and heterosexism are loud and clear with the rejection of the "LGBTQ" label for American youth. The intention to use a vague, less-threatening, and normalizing word or term to identify and describe LGBTQ youth is proof of America's heterosexualizing of everyone and everything for its own comfort and values. This is what a hetero-supremacist society does and looks like.

For most Americans, it is unfathomable that a young person can be LGBTQ. Therefore, other words and terms are used to identify and describe those youths who are not considered heterosexual because of their abnormal sexual deviance and otherness. In a heteronormative capitalistic society, sexually deviant persons are not allowed to exist, because reproduction is paramount for the creation of more workers and consumers.

Sadly, such persistent heterosexualizing of American youth is seen in the field and discipline of education. However, this is not surprising, considering the traditional, conservative, puritanical, prudish, patriarchal views and values that reign in education. Contrary to what some folks want to believe, there is nothing progressive about education in the United States; it is a part of the status quo. And a homophobic and heterosexist society creates a homophobic and heterosexist education system; the microcosm reflects the macrocosm. For example, in academia in 2014, as a doctoral student, I should not have to tell professors and fellow students to stop heterosexualizing me, my work, my ideas, and my interests (but that is a story for another time).

Finally, the hetero-dominating and heterosexualizing of the word "bullying" is also evidence of America's obsessive need to deny, ignore, and silence anything LGBTQ -- anything abhorrent. This infuriates me! Allow me to be clear: There is a difference between teasing and bullying. When one heterosexual child insults another heterosexual child for being short, tall, fat, skinny, etc., that is teasing. And when one heterosexual child calls a homosexual child a faggot, that is bullying. The heterosexual community must understand that the LGBTQ community has rights to and ownership over certain words and terms.