Understanding Gender Differences In Early Adolescents' Sexual Prejudice

Drawing on social dominance theory and the contact hypothesis, we developed and tested a two-mediator model for explaining gender differences in early adolescents' attitudes toward gay males and lesbians. Data from more than 4 ninth graders were analyzed. As predicted, gender differences in attitudes toward gay males were partially explained by social dominance orientation (SDO) and knowing a gay male. Gender differences in attitudes toward lesbians were partially mediated by SDO, while knowing a lesbian was not a mediating variable. Beyond their mediating roles, both SDO and knowing a member of the target group each significantly added to the prediction of attitudes toward each target group. Implications for policies to reduce victimization of sexual minorities in schools are discussed.