Opinion: The importance of checking heteronormativity

Meghan Dincler | Staff Writer

 What do you think of when you think of a traditional future? A man, a woman. Two kids, decent sized house, maybe a cat or dog. But for a lot of people, that’s not what they want. There are those that don’t want to have kids, or who don’t want to get married, or (God forbid) who want to marry someone of the same gender. 

And therein lies the problem in our idea of a traditional future. Because when we grow up hearing that this is the normal, the default, maybe even the only option, it perpetuates the idea that this is the only thing that is right. It brings people up with a close-minded attitude and only serves to increase the stigma around the LGBTQ+ community. 

I feel that Mason has taken major steps to being more inclusive, but there is still so far to go, both in our school and in our community. There are so many examples of places where a simple change in our language could serve to make people with diverse sexualities more comfortable, and create a better environment for everyone.

One of my good friends is a lesbian, and she laughs every time an adult comments on “impressing the boys.” Another one of my friends is asexual, and was laughing after they had to sit through a lecture on being intimate in the future. 

Boys are expected to ogle over scantily-clad Victoria’s Secret models, and girls are expected to have posters of the hottest boy bands in their room.

But what we often fail to realize is that human sexuality is a complex spectrum, and there are so many different ways that people identify. 

Something as simple as mentioning that people have different plans for their future can go a long way. 

These conscious changes make people feel more included, and can start making that shift towards a world where people aren’t looked down upon because they want to be with someone of the same gender, or because they don’t want to be with someone at all, or because they have ideas of love and marriage that are different than what many of us grew up hearing. 

By being kind and open-minded towards people, no matter where on that spectrum they might fall, we’re setting an example of love for those who are still closeted, or who might be trying to figure themselves out, and we’re making it known to them that we value their identity, and how important it is to normalize it. 

Even in my personal experience, I see myself falling into the trap of heteronormativity. I really didn’t even notice myself doing it until I was thinking about the way my friends react to people assuming they’re straight, and then I really stopped to think about why we immediately set “cis straight” as the default for all people. 

Mason is already such a diverse school that does so much to make everyone feel included, and shifting our rhetoric to portray a more open mindset is the next step towards creating an atmosphere where everyone is comfortable to be unapologetically themselves.