Following is a list of examples of heterosexual privilege.  If you are straight, these are unearned benefits you receive as a result of the sexuality you were born with.

If you are straight (or in some cases, perceived to be), you can live without ever having to think twice, face, confront, engage, or cope with anything listed below. These privileges are granted to you, and many of them are things you’ve likely taken for granted.  (Otherwise known as the “Why it’s easier to be straight” list.)

Think you can add something to the list?  Leave any more examples you know of in the comments below!

  1. Immediate access to your loved one in case of accident or emergency.
  2. Public recognition and support for an intimate relationship (e.g., congratulations for an engagement).
  3. Expressing affection in most social situations and not expecting hostile or violent reactions from others.
  4. Living with your partner and doing so openly.
  5. Expressing pain when a relationship ends from death or separation and receiving support from others.
  6. Receiving social acceptance by neighbors, colleagues, and good friends.
  7. Learning about romance and relationships from fiction movies and television.
  8. Having role models of your gender and sexual orientation.
  9. Having positive and accurate media images of people with whom you can identify.
  10. Expecting to be around others of your sexuality most of the time. Not worrying about being the only one of your sexuality in a class, on a job, or in a social situation.
  11. Talking openly about your relationship, vacations, and family planning you and your lover/partner are doing.
  12. Easily finding a neighborhood in which residents will accept how you have constituted your household.
  13. Raise, adopt, and teach children without people believing that you will molest them or force them into your sexuality.
  14. Working in traditionally male or female dominated job and not feeling as though you are a representative of your sexuality.
  15. Paid leave from employment when grieving the death of your spouse.
  16. Not being asked “how does sex work for you?” or other too-personal questions by strangers.
  17. Sharing health, auto and homeowners’ insurance policies at reduced rates.
  18. Not having to hide or lie about women/men only social activities.
  19. Acting, dressing, or talking as you choose without it being a reflection on people of your sexuality.
  20. The ability to teach about lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals without being seen as having a bias because of your sexuality or forcing a “homosexual agenda” on students.
  21. Property laws, filing joint tax returns, inheriting from your spouse automatically under probate laws.
  22. Joint child custody.
  23. Going wherever you wish and know that you will not be harassed, beaten, or killed because of your sexuality.
  24. Not worrying about being mistreated by the police or victimized by the criminal justice system because of your sexuality.
  25. Legal marriage to the person you love.
  26. Knowing that your basic civil rights will not be denied or outlawed because some people disapprove of your sexuality.
  27. Expect that your children will be given texts in school that support your kind of family unit and they will not be taught that your sexuality is a “perversion.”
  28. Freedom of sexual expression without fear of being prosecuted for breaking the law.
  29. Belonging to the religious denomination of your choice and know that your sexuality will not be denounced by its religious leaders.
  30. Knowing that you will not be fired from a job or denied a promotion based on your sexuality.
  31. [leave a comment below with another example!]
Items added by readers:
  • Not being asked by your child’s school to only send one parent to “back to school” night as to not upset the other parents by having two same-sex partners in the class together.
  • The ability to play a professional sport and not worry that your athletic ability will be overshadowed by your sexuality and the fact that you share a locker room with the same gender.
  • Not having to worry about being evicted if your landlord finds out about your sexuality.
  • Not having to “come out” (explain to people that you’re straight, as you can just assume they will assume it)
  • Knowing that people aren’t going to mutter about your sexuality if you come out to them.
  • Knowing that being open with your sexuality isn’t going to change how people view you.
  • Straight people can live anywhere in the world and find people like themselves, but gay people are limited geographically. Even if the people in more rural areas aren’t homophobic, living in a low-density population means social isolation, lack of a dating pool, etc. for queer folks. Even among urban areas, there’s only a few cities in the world, relatively speaking, where gay people can live openly and without too much fear.
  • Being able to have your partner from a different country be able to obtain citizenship in your country through marriage.
  • Not having people think your sexuality is a mental health issue
  • Not having to think about if your kid’s friends parents will flip out when they pick their kid up from a play date and are greeted by same-sex parents
  • Not having to worry that people won’t let their children play with your children because of your sexuality.
  • Not having to worry where you can move alone or with your spouse and have equal job opportunities abroad.
  • Being able to move abroad with your children without sudden changes of your legal status, possibly even having the chance of losing your children this way.

Thanks to BGSU’s Safe Zone Program for the beginnings of this list.

Important IP/Copyright/Credit note: A reader brought it to my attention that many items in this list may have originated in the appendix of this book: Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice. The handout I started from, which I have had the “thanks to” message above for the past few years) was apparently based on that appendix. I’m sorry for the misunderstanding.