homosexual teenagers in America. This is because numerous research studies have revealed that both male and female homosexuals are at danger not only from the traditional cultural forces but also from their sexual and non-sexual behavior and habits. Discrimination against homosexuals has been an extensively researched topic. Many scholars have asked for better curriculums and schooling environment for children from all backgrounds so that they grow up to appreciate sexual diversity. People who oppose homosexuality ought to know that this phenomenon is an extremely old tradition and has deep cultural roots and thus should be appreciated like all other ancient cultures. As Carla Mathison (1998) writes "Gay men and lesbians are not identified by their sex, ethnicity, religion, geographic location, socioeconomic or ability level but by their orientation to their own gender that includes, but is not limited to, sexual intimacy. (Carla Mathison, 1998)."
Carla Mathison (1998) further reveals and highlights the works of many pioneering homosexuals. These individuals have had a significant influence on the cultural proceedings of many civilizations. It is important to note here that while many important and pioneering individuals throughout history have turned out to be homosexuals; discrimination against homosexuals has increased instead of decreasing. This poses a great deal of danger on not only gays and lesbians but also on the American value system. As Carla Mathison (1998) writes, "The contributions of gay men and lesbians -- from politicians and athletes to economists, mathematicians, and educators -- have been critical to society. Aristotle, Socrates, Michelangelo, Leonardo DaVinci, and others laid the foundation for much of the framing of the modern world. More recently, authors James Baldwin, Willa Gather, Langston Hughes, Yosana Akiko, and Rita Mae Brown, and musicians from Tschaikovsky to the blues singer Bessie Smith, the pop artist Elton John, conductor Leonard Bernstein, and composers Benjamin Britten and Oscar Hammerstein have produced artful portrayals of the universal themes of joy and sorrow. The Aboriginal people considered homosexuals to be mystics and referred to gays and lesbians as two' spirited, having both male and female spirits. Before Europeans came to North America, many Indian cultures gave those who came to be known as berdaches a special and honored place in the society. Yet, in recent history, gay and lesbian people have been ignored or persecuted for a variety of complex and tragic reasons (Carla Mathison, 1998)."
Physical and Mental health problems
The health trends amongst homosexuals has been studied and presented in great detail by Lisa Armistead and Shira Maguen (2000), as they write: "Adolescents between the ages of 13 and 21 now account for 25% of newly reported HIV infections, and two adolescents under the age of 21 become infected with HIV every hour. While adolescents' infection rates are increasing as a whole, gay and bisexual male adolescents are particularly at risk. In New York City, 9% of gay or bisexual men between the ages of 18 and 24 are HIV infected, and in San Francisco up to 17.9% of these young males are infected. In a Houston study, although only 2% of adolescents reported male-to-male sexual contact, they accounted for 22% of all HIV-positive cases, with about 10% of males who have sex with males testing HIV-positive (Lisa Armistead and Shira Maguen, 2000)."
Furthermore, many homosexuals are carefree individuals, and more often than not, their carefree attitude leads to life-threatening health problems. HIV aids is considered to be relatively higher amongst homosexuals, as Lisa Armistead and Shira Maguen (2000) write, 'Lesbian and bisexual female adolescents may also be at risk, as studies have shown that some lesbians and bisexual women have unprotected vaginal intercourse with their gay and bisexual male friends 32% of lesbian youth reported having at least one gay or bisexual male sex partner. Furthermore, in one study 3 of 17 HIV-positive female adolescents identified as bisexual and had sex with other women (Lisa Armistead and Shira Maguen, 2000)."
While most research studies have focused on carefree attitude of homosexuals, several studies have revealed that fear of guilt and acknowledgement is also one of the main factors holding back HIV testing. As Lisa Armistead and Shira Maguen (2000) write, "There are several additional beliefs about HIV testing that may prevent young people from seeking testing, such as fear that others will find out the results of their test without their consent. For gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth, concerns regarding exposure of their sexual orientation upon testing HIV-positive may also play an inhibitory role. Although it is possible to speculate which barriers are most relevant to adolescents, especially gay, lesbian, and bisexual adolescents, there has been little systematic research on why most of these adolescents do not seek HIV testing (Lisa Armistead and Shira Maguen, 2000)."
Many research studies reveal that discrimination is worse at educational settings, where homosexuals are consistently tantalized and left out of regular educational activities. This creates a sense of isolation amongst teenage homosexuals, who instead of receiving regular attention from their mates and teachers, get discriminated on a regular basis. As Carla Mathison (1998) writes, "Ignorance and its accompanying persecution shatter the identities of gay and lesbian youth in educational institutions and society. Gay and lesbian youth are two to three times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual youth. School authorities may punish a White student for calling a Black student nigger by detention or expulsion, but students calling others faggot, queer, momma's boy, dyke, lesbo often receive no punishment. Tolerance of these cultural slurs indicates to both hetero- and homosexual students that gay and lesbian students are open, deserving game for teasing, harassment, and, in many cases, physical abuse (Carla Mathison, 1998)."
Most of the homosexuals, having received discrimination from their educational settings, develop a tendency for many anti-social and life-threatening activities in desperation. While laws are clearly laid out to protect homosexuals from any sort of discrimination, school administration officials more often than not, show reluctance in applying these laws and taking action against those who breach them. Connie Callahan (2002) discusses this phenomenon is great detail: "3 million male and lesbian adolescents in the U.S. have a homosexual orientation. Since this population is at risk for suicide, alcohol and substance abuse, sexual acting out (with consequences of STD infection or pregnancy), victimization and violence, counselors need to develop an understanding of and strategies for assisting gay youth. Many of these young people face harassment at school and many end up dropping out of high school. Others hurt themselves or others. School personnel need to develop an understanding of gay and lesbian students and need to reach out to them for the students' own good and for the good of the school. There are laws that protect students from harassment and schools who have failed to implement those laws have paid for their lack of involvement in this matter (Connie Callahan, 2002)."
Many researchers have pointed out that the primary factor responsible for discrimination against women has been the American culture. This culture needs to change so that homosexuals can grow and develop a positive identity through peaceful and friendly interactions with the society. As Joan F. Kaywell (1999) writes: "Culture is subtly passed from generation to generation, and our American culture has taught us that homosexuality is unnatural, wrong, evil, and/or sick. Human sexuality is experienced along a continuum. At one end of the continuum are people who only have attractions and experiences with the opposite sex, and at the other end of the continuum are people who only have attractions and experiences with the same sex. Most people fall somewhere in between the two extremes, but approximately 10% of the population consider themselves to be homosexual and are having to make important decisions about how to live their lives (Joan F. Kaywell, 1999)."