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Queen's University
 

Sexual Orientation

Unfair differential treatment based on someone's sexual orientation is not acceptable at Queen's.

Queen's policy is modelled on the Ontario Human Rights Code, which makes it against the law to discriminate against someone or to harass them because of their sexual orientation.

Homophobic conduct and comment are prohibited as part of the Code's protection against discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation, no matter what the target's sexual orientation is, or is perceived to be.

What is sexual orientation?

A person's sexual orientation is defined by the gender identities of the people to whom that person is sexually and/or romantically attracted.

While sexual orientation is sometimes discussed in terms of whether an individual is attracted to "the same" or to "the opposite" sex, this is a serious oversimplification both of sexual attraction and of gender identity:

In terms of sexual attraction, people are not attracted to others exclusively on the basis of the other's gender identity; in fact, some may be attracted without regard to it or even in spite of it. In terms of gender identity, many individuals do not identify within the traditional gender binary of male or female, man or woman, making the notion of "same" and "opposite" gender meaningless for them and for those attracted to them.  (See Gender Identity.)

What are some examples of sexual orientation?

As we learn more about sexual orientation, we realize that it does not necessarily break down into neat categories. Some examples of "orientations" (not a complete listing):

Lesbian: a person who identifies as a woman and who is attracted to other people who identify as women. Gay man: a person who identifies as a man and who is attracted to other people who identify as men. Bisexual: a person who is attracted both to people who identify as men and to people who identify as women (or people who claim some other or no gender identity). Straight: a person who identifies as a woman and who is attracted to people who identify as men or a person who identifies as a man and who is attracted to people who identify as women. Also known as heterosexual. Pansexual: a person whose attractions to individuals are not integrally related to the gender identities of the individuals.

What are heterosexism and homophobia?

There are socially constructed ways of looking at sexual orientation that have resulted in negative stereotyping about and hostility towards people whose orientations are other than heterosexual (straight).

Heterosexism refers to the system of beliefs and practices that exclude and demean those who are, or are perceived to be, same-sex oriented, or at least not opposite-sex oriented. Heterosexism presumes the "natural" superiority of heterosexuality over all other orientations and assumes that everyone is heterosexual unless known to be otherwise. Homophobia (the irrational fear of same-sex-oriented people or feelings) is a term often used to describe harassing heterosexist behaviour, including verbal and physical abuse.

Discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation

Under the Queen's Harassment and Discrimination Policy, unfair differential treatment based on someone's sexual orientation is not acceptable at Queen's. Queen's policy is modeled on the Ontario Human Rights Code, which makes it against the law to discriminate against someone or to harass them because of their sexual orientation. Homophobic conduct and comment are prohibited as part of the Code's protection against discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation, no matter what the target's sexual orientation is, or is perceived to be.

Accommodating sexual orientation

Under Queen's policy, there is a duty to accommodate people on the basis of sexual orientation. The goal is to allow people to benefit equally from and take part in events, activities, housing, and employment. Accommodation is a shared responsibility and everyone, including the person seeking accommodation, should cooperate in the process. However, when members of the University have obligations related to a human rights ground that conflict with an institutional rule or practice, Queen's has a duty to accommodate peoples' needs with dignity and to the point of undue hardship.

Contact us

If you would like to discuss a concern about discrimination or harassment based on sexual orientation, please contact the Queens' Human Rights Office at: Phone: 613-533-6886
Email: hrights@queensu.ca 

Related resources

  • The Queen's Positive Space Program:Celebrating sexual and gender diversity at Queen's since 1999, this sticker program came into existence to promote the idea that all spaces at Queen's should be safe for all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. The Positive Space website includes a variety of resources. 

  • The Queen's Education on Queer Issues Project (EquIP):A student organization located in the Grey House, EquIP's objective is to provide a positive space for people of all sexual and gender identities (e.g. Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Pansexual/Omnisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Intersex, Queer, Questioning, Two-spirited, Asexual, Allies, and others), ethnic backgrounds, literacy, ages, physical and mental abilities. They sponsor Queerientation and support Queen's Pride Week.

  • Ontario Human Rights Commission  

Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000