Gregory M. Herek, Ph.D.

Selected Publications on Hate Crimes

 
Herek, G.M. (1989). Hate crimes against lesbians and gay men: Issues for research and policy. American Psychologist, 44 (6), 948-955.
  Antigay hate crimes (words or actions that are intended to harm or intimidate individuals because they are lesbian or gay) constitute a serious national problem. In recent surveys, as many as 92% of lesbians and gay men report that they have been the targets of antigay verbal abuse or threats, and as many as 24% report physical attacks because of their sexual orientation. Assaults may have increased in frequency during the last few years, with many incidents now including spoken references to the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) by the assailants. Trends cannot be assessed, however, because most antigay hate crimes are never reported and no comprehensive national surveys of antigay victimization have been conducted. Suggestions are offered for research and policy.
 
Herek, G.M. (1990). The context of anti-gay violence: Notes on cultural and psychological heterosexism. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 5 (3), 316-333.
  Hate crimes against lesbians and gay men occur within a broader cultural context that is permeated by heterosexism. Heterosexism is defined here as an ideological system that denies, denigrates, and stigmatizes any nonheterosexual form of behavior, identity, relationship, or community. It operates principally by rendering homosexuality invisible and, when this fails, by trivializing, repressing, or stigmatizing it. This article focuses on the nexus between cultural heterosexism and individual prejudice against lesbians and gay men. Key components of the ideologies of sex and gender from which heterosexism derives are identified: (a) the personal-public dichotomy, (b) the stigmatization of particular forms of sexuality, and (c) the linkage of heterosexuality to gender-role conformity. Supported by these ideological underpinnings, cultural heterosexism fosters anti-gay attitudes by providing a ready-made system of values and stereotypical beliefs that just such prejudice as "natural." By imbuing homosexuality with a variety of symbolic meanings, cultural heterosexism enables expressions of individual prejudice to serve various psychological functions. Furthermore, by discouraging lesbians and gay men from coming out to others, heterosexism perpetuates itself. Recent social trends that may affect the ideology of heterosexism are identified, and their potential for reducing anti-gay prejudice is discussed.
 
Herek, G.M., & Berrill, K. (1990). Documenting the victimization of lesbians and gay men: Methodological issues. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 5 (3), 301-315.
  Documenting the extent of anti-gay hate crimes is of critical importance in responding effectively to them and preventing them. The task of documentation is difficult and time-consuming, but is tremendously valuable if done correctly. Recognizing that the bulk of information about hate crimes currently comes from small-scale community surveys, this article describes some of the major methodological issues involved in conducting such surveys. Issues of sampling, instrument design, data collection, and data analysis are discussed. Guidelines are offered for reporting the survey results. A sample victimization questionnaire is presented. Using the guidelines and resources provided in this article may yield survey results that will be more useful for researchers, service providers, policymakers, and the lesbian and gay community
 
Herek, G.M., & Berrill, K. (1990). Anti-gay violence and mental health: Setting an agenda for research. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 5 (3), 414-423.
  Empirical studies are urgently needed of the scope and prevalence of anti-gay violence, its mental health consequences, its prevention, and institutional response to it. Researchers should seek data from a variety of sources, use representative samples whenever possible, use reliable and valid measures and methods, and design studies that are longitudinal and prospective. Each of these components of a research agenda for studying anti-gay violence and hate crimes is described.
 
Garnets, L., Herek, G.M., & Levy, B. (1990). Violence and victimization of lesbians and gay men: Mental health consequences. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 5 (3), 366-383.
  This article describes some of the major psychosocial challenges faced by lesbian and gay male survivors of hate crimes, their significant others, and the gay community as a whole. When an individual is attacked because she or he is perceived to be gay, the negative mental health consequences of victimization converge with those resulting from societal heterosexism to create a unique set of problems. Such victimization represents a crisis for the individual, creating opportunities for growth as well as risks for impairment. The principal risk associated with anti-gay victimization is that the survivor's homosexuality becomes directly linked to her or his newly heightened sense of vulnerability. The problems faced by lesbian and gay male victims of sexual assault, and the psychological impact of verbal abuse also are discussed. Suggestions are offered to assist practitioners in helping the survivors of anti-gay hate crimes.
 
Berrill, K.T., & Herek, G.M. (1990). Primary and secondary victimization in anti-gay hate crimes: Official response and public policy. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 5 (3), 401-413.
  Lesbian and gay male targets of hate crimes face multiple levels of victimization. In addition to suffering the effects of being a crime victim, they also face secondary victimization (i.e., additional victimization after a crime that results from societal heterosexism). Examples of secondary victimization include losing one's job, being evicted from housing, or being denied public services or accommodations once one's sexual orientation is disclosed as the result of an anti-gay attack. The inadequacies of government response to anti-gay hate crimes are discussed, and the secondary victimization perpetrated by the criminal justice system is described. A broad-based governmental response to anti-gay hate crimes is advocated. Specific policy recommendations are offered for formulating appropriate legislation, reforming the criminal justice system, and developing widespread community education programs.
 
Herek, G.M. (1993). Documenting prejudice against lesbians and gay men on campus: The Yale Sexual Orientation Survey. Journal of Homosexuality, 25 (4), 15-30.
  College and university communities recently have begun to confront the problems of harassment, discrimination, and violence against lesbians, gay men, and bisexual people on campus. A first step in responding to attacks against gay and bisexual people is to document their frequency and the forms that they take. The present article reports the methodology and results of a survey conducted at Yale University in 1986, which subsequently has been replicated on several other campuses. The Yale survey revealed that lesbians, gay men, and bisexual people on campus lived in a world of secretiveness and fear. Although experiences of physical assault on campus were relatively infrequent, many respondents reported other forms of discrimination and harassment. A majority reported that they feared antigay violence and harassment on campus, and that such fears affected their behavior. Replications on other campuses have yielded similar results. Suggestions are offered for researchers who wish to conduct such a survey on their own campus.
 
Herek, G.M., Gillis, J.R., Cogan, J.C., & Glunt, E.K. (1997). Hate crime victimization among lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults: Prevalence, psychological correlates, and methodological issues. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 12 (2), 195-215.
  Although violence based on sexual orientation is now widely recognized as a serious problem in the United States, social science data concerning the prevalence and consequences of such crimes are limited. In the present study, questionnaire data about victimization experiences were collected from 147 lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals 74 females, 73 males) in the Sacramento (CA) area. In addition, 45 of the respondents participated in a follow-up interview. Forty-one percent reported experiencing a bias-related criminal victimization since age 16, with another 9.5% reporting an attempted bias crime against them. The distribution of bias-related victimization and harassment experiences in the sample resembled patterns reported in other U.S. surveys with similar samples. Compared to other respondents, bias-crime survivors manifested higher levels of depression, anxiety, anger, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Methodological and substantive issues in empirical research on hate crimes against lesbians and gay men are discussed.
 
Herek, G.M., Gillis, J.R., & Cogan, J. C. (1999). Psychological sequelae of hate crime victimization among lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 67, 945-951.
  To assess the psychological correlates of hate crime victimization based on sexual orientation, and to compare the sequelae of bias crimes with those of other crimes, questionnaire data about victimization experiences were collected from 2259 lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals (total N = 1170 females, 1089 males) in the Sacramento (CA) area. Approximately one-fifth of females and one-fourth of males had experienced a bias-related criminal victimization since age 16; one-eighth of females and one-sixth of males had experienced a bias crime recently (in the previous 5 years). Hate crimes were less likely than nonbias crimes to have been reported to police authorities. Compared to lesbian and gay victims of recent nonbias crimes, recent hate crime victims displayed significantly more symptoms of depression, anger, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress. Significant differences were not observed among bisexuals. Gay and lesbian hate crime survivors manifested significantly more fear of crime, greater perceived vulnerability, less belief in the benevolence of people, lower sense of mastery, and more attributions of their personal setbacks to sexual prejudice than did nonbias crime victims and nonvictims. The findings highlight the importance of recognizing hate crime survivors' special needs in clinical settings and in public policy. (A pre-publication version of the paper in PDF format can be downloaded from this site.)
 
Herek, G.M., Cogan, J.C., & Gillis, J.R. (2002). Victim experiences in hate crimes based on sexual orientation. Journal of Social Issues, 58 (2), 319-339.
  This paper uses data from interviews with 450 lesbian, gay, and bisexual people to examine the varieties of victim experiences in hate crimes based on sexual orientation. We describe the settings and perpetrators of hate crimes, strategies that victims use for determining that a crime was based on their sexual orientation, and reasons why victims do not report a crime to police authorities. Although many hate crimes are perpetrated in public settings by groups of young males who are strangers to the victim, the data show that victimization also occurs in a variety of other locales and is perpetrated by neighbors, coworkers, and relatives. Victims tended to rely primarily on explicit statements by perpetrators and contextual cues in deciding whether a crime was based on their sexual orientation, and interviewees' categorization of incidents as antigay generally appeared to be accurate. Hate crimes were less likely than other crimes to be reported to police, and concerns about police bias and public disclosure of their sexual orientation were important factors for victims in deciding whether to report. Many interviewees weighed the severity or importance of the crime and the likelihood that the perpetrators would be punished in making their decision. Interview narratives are used to illustrate these patterns. (A pre-publication version of the paper in PDF format can be downloaded from this site.)
 
Herek, G. M. (2007). Hate crimes and stigma-related experiences among sexual minority adults in the United States: Prevalence estimates from a national probability sample. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, in press.
  Using survey responses from a U.S. national probability sample of gay, lesbian, and bisexual adults (N = 662), this paper reports prevalence estimates of criminal victimization and related experiences based on the target's sexual orientation. Such experiences are conceptualized in terms of enacted stigma (criminal victimization, harassment, and discrimination based on sexual orientation) and felt stigma (perceptions that sexual minorities are disliked and devalued by society). Data were collected via the Internet by Knowledge Networks from a subsample of their panel of more than 40,000 individuals, all of whom were recruited using random-digit dialing methods and provided with free Internet access and equipment if they did not already have it. Approximately 20% of respondents reported having experienced a person crime or property crime based on their sexual orientation, about half had experienced verbal harassment, and more than one in ten reported having experienced employment or housing discrimination. Gay men were significantly more likely than lesbians or bisexuals to experience violence or property crimes. More than one third of gay men (37.6%) reported experiencing one or both types of crimes, compared to 12.5% of lesbians, 10.7% of bisexual men, and 12.7% of bisexual women. Gay men also reported higher levels of harassment and verbal abuse than the other sexual orientation groups. Employment and housing discrimination were significantly more likely among gay men and lesbians (reported by 17.7% and 16.3%, respectively) than among bisexual men and women (3.7% and 6.8%, respectively). More than half of the respondents manifested some degree of felt stigma, as indicated by their perception that most people think less of sexual minorities, that most employers will not hire qualified sexual minority applicants, or that most people would not want a sexual minority individual to care for their children. Implications for future research and policy are discussed.
(A pre-publication draft of the paper in PDF format can be downloaded from this site.)
 
 

Go to Dr. Herek's complete bibliography
 

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